Transition to school: If your child was attending virtual or hybrid last school year, a transition and return to full in person learning will be important to discuss. Consider taking a tour or walk through with your child to help to reduce stress or first day jitters. Reach out to the school guidance counselor or your pediatrician to discuss any concerns. Socializing with a small group of friends outdoors and attending an orientation prior to the start of school will be helpful too.
- Masks: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends universal masking indoors for all children this school year. Be sure to practice wearing a mask and removing a mask safely with children. Slowly increase the amount of time in a mask to increase mask endurance.
- Sleep Hygiene: A few weeks before school starts is a good time to review and reset sleep schedules. Consistent sleep and waking at set times similar to school times will help the entire family adjust to the beginning of school. Try for 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Avoid any devices at least 1 hour prior to bedtime.
- Backpacks: Make sure to get a lightweight backpack with 2 thick padded straps with a padded back. Pack light and make sure the weight of the backpack is less than 10-20 % of your child’s weight.
- Study Habits: Write a study schedule and design a study space in one area of the home. Set out timers to help with keeping on task during homework . Make sure it is in a well lit area and all supplies are readily available. Make it a special place for your child to decorate and make their own.
- Screen time: Set limits for screen time even before school starts. Ensure less than 1-2 hrs a day on any screen including computer, TV and other devices. During the school year motivate other activities besides screens and devices.
- Activity: Encourage daily activity 30 minutes to 1 hr a day. Something that increases heart rate and involves the outdoors. Activity also helps clear the mind and helps with anxiety. Attempt small short quick activities first, then move up to 30 minutes daily. Get the entire family involved.
- Healthy diet: Eat a protein filled breakfast daily. Start meal planning and find nutritious snacks for school. Healthy eating during the school day can improve brain function and retention of material during the day. Plenty of fluids and avoiding sugary snacks improves focus and encourages healthy brain development.
- School Physical: Ensure annual physicals for your children. Prior to school starting or early September is a great time to discuss any school or health issues your child may be having. It is important for your family and child to discuss ways to maintain health and prevent disease.
- Vaccines: Make sure to update all necessary vaccinations. Children age twelve and older are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Keeping up with routine vaccinations also offers protection from influenza,whooping cough, meningitis and certain types of cancer. Talk to your doctor to make sure your child has all of the necessary vaccinations for school.
- Hand Hygiene: Reiterate and practice hand washing everywhere but especially for school. Good habits take time to develop so please make sure to establish proper techniques for hand washing prior to the start of school.
Enjoy the rest of the summer and have a great experience with the family. Hopefully by doing some prep work, the transition from summer to school will be easier.
Please discuss with your pediatrician any issues that arise related to school. We are happy to offer advice regarding their education and the overall health and wellness of your child.
Dr. Sara Siddiqui is a pediatrician and a trustee of the Elwood Board of Education.