From packing healthy lunches to fitting in family physical activities, keep your kids on the right track this school year with these back-to-school tips.
1. Safety First
An estimated 2.2 million children ages 14 and under sustain school related injuries each year. Accidents can be prevented if parents are on the lookout for potential hazards.
Backpacks – Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Your child’s backpack should not be wider than his body. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. Make sure your child is not toting unnecessary items.
Picking up a backpack properly is important. As with any heavy object, your child should bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting it to his shoulders.
Helmets – Buy a helmet that has a label stating it meets mandatory safety standards (U.S., CPSC, Snell, ANSI, ASTM) insist that your children wear the helmet each time they ride their bike or scooter.
Bikes – If your child is old enough to safely ride their bike to and from school teach them to following safety
- Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on bike paths when available or in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright colored clothing to increase visibility.
Playgrounds – Check the playgrounds where your children play. Look for age-appropriate equipment and hazards such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces. Report any hazards to the school or
Walking to school – Make sure your child’s walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing
guards at busy intersections. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
Before and after school child care – During middle school, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school
until you return home from work.
Bullies – They should not give in to a bully’s demands, but should simply walk away or tell the bully to
stop. Look the bully in the eye, stand tall, stay calm and say in a firm voice “Please do NOT talk to me like that.” Or “I do not like what you are doing.”
If the bullying continues, alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions. If you see no changes, go to the police. Encourage your child to make friends with other children. Support activities that interest your child.
2. Making the First Day Easier
Remind your child that she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.
3. Eating During the School Day
Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat.
Try to get your child’s school to stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, water and 100 % fruit juice in the vending machines.
Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Restrict your child’s soft drink consumption.
4. Reduce Screen Time
Kids spend a big part of their day sitting in the classroom, so you can help your children spend less time in front of the TV, computer, and video games—and more time having fun as a family—with these tips. Turn off the TV during mealtime and talk with your children about what they learned in school that day.
Families who eat together tend to eat healthier. Limit screen time to two hours each day for children
two or older. Suggest playing outside after school and join in the fun.
Turn on some music and have a family dance party. Be a good role model. If you reduce your screen time
and move more, your kids will too!
5. Get Involved
At the start of a new grading period help your child set goals for good grades.
At the end of a grading period: Check your child’s report card for grades and attendance. Good attendance is less than 2 days missed per quarter. Put the report card up on the refrigerator.
During the school year: Go to school events, join the PTA/PTO, attend parent-teacher conferences, and get to know your child’s teacher.
Ask for help when you or your child needs it. Praise your child for working hard and learning!