Helping Youngsters Adjust to New School Year

It’s the first days of school, a time when families start a new academic year. And as
students and their parents know, transitioning from vacation to education mode can be tough.

It helps to address logistical, scheduling and medical needs in advance, experts say. Just ask
Erika Mark, DO., a pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Northwell Health-GoHealth Pediatric Urgent
Care, and a parent whose children have been preparing for a successful school year.

Start with consistent routines, which when developed with your child, can help instill self-
confidence and a sense of independence, Mark said.

Mark suggests touching base with children often.

For parents looking to find ways to talk with their child or teen, she recommends reading “How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk” by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish and “The whole brain child:12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind” by Daniel J. Siegel, MD, and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

Each day after school, go through children’s school folders together with the kids, congratulating them on achievements and discussing any challenges.

Building daily habits to stay hydrated and eat healthfully is key. Mark recommends that kids
bring along filled water bottles when going out, whether heading to school, sports practice or
going out with friends. And remember, water – not juice, soda or other sugary drinks – is always
the best source of hydration.

Engage kids in selecting from a variety of healthy lunch choices.

Mix it up by filling thermoses with hot soups or leftovers, or containers with their favorite meat,
cheese, fruit and other healthy items. Mark also likes to include a vegetable.

Kids need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day, according to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. “How your family incorporates this into your day can vary
based on your interests, time and resource availability,” Mark said.

To maintain a regular bedtime schedule, power-down kids’ electronics two hours before bedtime
each night, and put the focus on quiet activities when getting ready for bed. Be sure to allow 20
to 30 minutes of snuggling and reading with kids before they settle in for the night, Mark said.

Prevent infections proactively by ensuring all vaccinations are current, including COVID-19 and
HPV vaccines and flu shots. Remind everyone to routinely wash hands, and tuck hand
sanitizers into backpacks and glove compartments.

If kids get sick, speak with a pediatrician to see if an evaluation is needed. And give kids plenty
of fluids to drink.

Parents whose children have a history of anaphylaxis, asthma attacks or other condition should
develop a plan with a medical professional and school officials in the event of an emergency.

And all EpiPens, inhalers as well as pain reducing and anti-fever medications should be current.

Know where to go for after-hours medical help in your community. For example, Northwell
Health-GoHealth Urgent Care is open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. every day with virtual and in-person care
that is designed for kids and staffed by experienced pediatric providers.

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