It’s time to say “So long, summer” and “Hello, new school year” as classes begin this week for children across Oregon. However, transitioning from a laid-back summertime schedule to a new school year routine isn’t always easy.
“As parents, we always promise ourselves, ‘This summer, I’m going to be better and more organized’ and it’s always a scramble at the end,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.
Here are Dr. B’s tips for starting the new school year successfully:
Get your kids back on a regular sleep schedule. It’s important to set regular school night bedtimes to help your child sleep well and wake up rested and on time.
Kids 6-12-years-old should get 9-12 hours of sleep a night, 8-10 hours for teens.
Check your children’s vaccination records. Under Oregon law, children will not be able to attend public or private school, preschool, child care or Head Start programs starting February 15, 2017 if their records on file show missing immunizations.
If you have a child going off to college, Dr. Bradshaw says the Centers for Disease Control now recommends that all college students receive a vaccination for the potentially deadly meningococcal B bacteria. Five college campuses in the United States, including the University of Oregon, have had meningococcal B outbreaks since 2013.
Make time for a good breakfast. Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better in school; they have stronger concentration and more energy. If your family tends to be rushed in the mornings, it’s OK to forgo traditional breakfast, as long as you and your kids are eating something nutritious. Try heating up leftovers from last night’s dinner, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or stock your kitchen with nutritious items you can grab on the go, like granola bars, yogurts, string cheese and fruit.
Evaluate your child’s backpack. Backpacks that are too heavy can cause serious problems for kids, including back and shoulder pain and poor posture.
The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments and pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. Kids should always use both shoulder straps and be sure to give unnecessary contents a regular purging.
“Help your kids get into a daily routine of cleaning out their backpacks when they get home, and only put in what they need for that next day,” Dr. B says.
Talk with your children about any concerns they have. Your kids may be anxious about the new school year in ways that don’t necessarily seem like a big deal to parents. A common worry for students entering middle school for the first time is not being able to get their locker open. Try giving your middle schooler a combination pad lock to practice on before their first day to help them feel ready and more confident.