Parents’ Primer: Preparing Kids for Back-to-School Time

Before your child heads back to school this fall, take intentional steps as a family to prepare for a great year. Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or a teen taking on high school, recognizing and planning for your student’s needs helps support a safe, happy and successful return to the classroom and school activities.

“Back-to-school season is filled with big emotions for children and parents alike, from nerves and trepidation to excitement and anticipation,” said Shannon Godsil, M.D., a pediatrician at Children’s Physicians, Val Verde. “Families can help set kids up for success by creating good habits and routines that support physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Planning together as a family is also a great way to get kids involved in successfully balancing schoolwork, healthy activities and downtime during the academic year.”

Some tips to keep in mind for back-to-school time:

Sleep Habits

  • Establish consistent bedtimes.
  • Limit screen time well before bed.
  • Ensure 10-12 hours of rest for young kids and 8-10 hours for teens.

Nutrition & Hydration

  • Eat a nutritious breakfast with protein.
  • Pack a water bottle to avoid sugary drinks and encourage hydration all day.
  • Consider weekly school lunch menus, planning for either a hot lunch or a cold lunch brought from home.

Vaccinations & Boosters

  • Check with your trusted provider to stay on schedule with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, flu shots and other childhood immunizations.
  • Keep track of your child’s full immunization records for easy access.

School Night Routines

  • Stay on top of homework, chores and other responsibilities each night.
  • Pack backpacks the night before to avoid rushing in the morning.
  • “Brush, Books, Bed”: Establish habits with proper hygiene, reading and lights out at a reasonable hour.

Hygiene Habits

  • Encourage kids to wash their hands throughout the day, especially before eating and after blowing their nose or visiting the bathroom.
  • Teach kids to cover their coughs.
  • Reinforce school policies on social distancing and masking, as applicable.

Walking & Biking to School

  • Practice your child’s route between school and home.
  • Discuss your family’s drop-off and pickup plans.
  • Require the use of a helmet if riding a bike, no matter the distance.
  • Teach kids the “rules of the road.”

Easing Anxiety

  • Review classroom rules and expectations in advance.
  • Discuss which teachers and staff your child will rely upon for help.
  • Point out positives, like seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
  • If needed, request to visit a new school or classroom before the first day.

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