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Help ensure a smooth back-to-school transition

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August has finally arrived. The eighth month of the year that brings hot temperatures, last-minute summer vacations and the dreaded back-to-school routines. My son Owen starts kindergarten this year, so I am especially nervous/happy/excited/sad all bottled up into one emotional wreck.

We are only a few weeks away from the first day of school — the day I’ll watch a piece of my heart walk through those doors and begin a new chapter of his life. Since this is a new experience for him, and for me (an emotional mama), I reached out to several of my friends and colleagues with school-aged children to see if they could help prepare me for this new adventure.

PROVIDE ENCOURAGEMENT, SUPPORT

One of my colleagues broke out into shingles because she was so worked up over her child starting kindergarten several years ago. Yikes! She emphasized that starting or returning to school can be a difficult time for both the parents and the child but to provide encouragement to your child as much as possible. The new school year brings new challenges, new learning experiences and hopefully new friendships and relationships. Be there to support your children as they go through it all, which can be both exciting and overwhelming.

A friend suggested that instead of asking “How was school?” ask them what the best part of their day was or to tell you one thing they learned that day that they didn’t know before going to school.

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

We all get off track during the summer months. With the longer days and warmer temperatures to play outside, it’s not unusual for my kids to eat dinner late, which pushes bath time and bedtime later and later. This makes bedtime at my house a battle!

I was encouraged to establish both a bedtime and morning routine about a week or two before school begins to get back on track. Healthy sleep allows children to function optimally when they are awake. It supports a state where they have a greater attention span and the ability to learn the most.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these sleep guidelines to promote healthy sleep habits and optimal health:

• 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours of sleep per day

• 6-12 years old: 9-12 hours of sleep per day

• 13-18 years old: 8-10 hours of sleep per day

A good morning routine is also essential to start your day off right. Most days I am exhausted by the time I get to work from the act of getting my 3-year-old and 5-year-old out of bed and dressed in the mornings. By organizing and having their backpack, clothes and lunch ready the night before, this will make the morning routine so much easier.

CREATE A SPACE FOR HOMEWORK

Part of establishing a routine is creating the time and space for homework. Creating a dedicated space that is conducive to doing homework can offer both consistency and organization. Someone suggested to let your child have downtime right after school instead of going straight into homework.

HEALTHY EATING HABITS

Eating a nutritious meal provides ample benefits for children, just like getting enough sleep. It’s a proven fact that children who eat a nutritious breakfast will function better throughout the day. Plan out meals each week for breakfast, lunch (if you make it) and dinner. Planning ahead and preparing healthy meals are not only good for you, but good for your wallet as well. Fun tip for those who make their children’s lunch: leave a note in their lunch box to brighten their day.

These are just a few tips to prepare as your child or children go back to school, or start school for the first time like mine. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, please send them my way. You may email melanie.raynor@wilmed.org.

Melanie Raynor is the marketing coordinator at Wilson Medical Center.

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