The back-to-school guide for parents

Whether you’re rejoicing that the kids are headed back to school or wishing the summer break lasted longer, the time has come to prepare for the back-to-school rush. What can you do to get your kids ready?

While it might seem like school just ended, the next school year is coming up fast! And you to take steps to prepare your kids — setting them up for learning and developmental success.

Not sure where to even begin, though? We’ve got the scoop.

Read on as we offer some perspective about how to prepare your kids to be at their best this school year. Consider it your guide to back-to-school success!

Back-to-school basics: Get back into a sleep routine

This one might be the most important of all of our tips. And it’s key to get it started early.

Your kids — and so many others — likely slept later this summer and went to sleep later each night. That’s totally fine! It’s normal for a sleep routine to change a bit when school isn’t a factor.

But when the back-to-school season hits, it’s time to flip the switch. Starting at least a week prior to the first day of school, work to reset your kids’ routines.

Determine exactly how much sleep they need, then set a bedtime accordingly that will allow them to wake restored and ready to go in the morning. Now, the hard part — in increments, work on getting your kids to that bedtime and waketime. Put them to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and have them begin waking up earlier, too.

Doing this gradually will help ensure there’s no shock when the first day of school arrives.

Interested in learning more about helping kids get quality sleep? Read our blog “How much sleep do my kids need?”

Back-to-school basics: Start planning out healthy meals

We all perform at our best when we’re fueled with healthy foods, particularly a healthy, balanced breakfast.

But it can be all-too-easy during the chaos of the school year to slip into a routine where you’re sending the kids off with packaged, processed foods for lunch and even for breakfast. It’s just easier!

But that doesn’t have to be the case. A little advanced preparation now — and some more advanced prep each weekend during the school year — can help you get your family the fuel they need to get through every day.

Flip through healthy recipes and find a good rotation of ideas for both breakfast and lunch. The weekend before school begins, choose a few of those ideas and grab up all the required ingredients.

These don’t have to be complicated. Having items on hand like apples and peanut butter can get a quick and easy meal in your child first thing in the morning that will keep him or her fueled until lunch.

Looking for some healthy lunch ideas for kids? Read our blog “Healthy (and fun) lunchbox ideas.”

Back-to-school basics: Choose the right backpack

When it comes to choosing a backpack, you might be thinking only of the aesthetics. Your child may want the newest Disney star or princess on his or her backpack, and that’s totally OK.

But you also need to think about function, and you need to choose the healthiest option for your child.

Wait — what do we mean by healthy when it comes to a backpack? You want to look for some essentials to help keep your child’s back from literally being weighed down.

First, choose a backpack that has two straps so that weight is evenly distributed. Then, once the school year begins, you want to ensure that the backpack never weighs more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight at most.

Carrying more than that on the back, or carrying it unevenly distributed, can cause back pain in your child.

Want other tips about choosing the right backpack? Read our blog “Back-to-school basics: Choosing the right backpack.”

Back-to-school basics: Set up a homework space

Think about this — where do you work best? The odds are, you work best in a space that’s organized and set aside for work.

So, when your child is doing homework, he or she needs something similar.

Carve out a space in your home that’s set up with all the essentials, including a comfortable chair and all basic school supplies. That space should be free of distractions, including screens in most cases. The exception is when your child needs a computer to perform an assignment.

Having this designated space will help your child be more productive and effective — and ideally, accomplish homework in a quick fashion.

Looking for more info about why time away from screens is important? Read our blog “Is there really such a thing as gaming disorder?”

Back-to-school basics: Build in time for activity

During the summer, your little one was probably plenty active. Hours spent outdoors playing or swimming in a local pool add up to a good bit of physical activity.

But when kids are back in school, that activity can often fall by the wayside, particularly if your child is not involved in a sport.

So, just as it’s important to set your child up for success when it comes to homework and sleep, make sure you’re carving out time every day for your child to do something physically active.

One of the best ways to promote activity in your kids? Make it a family routine. Head out for a walk after dinner each day, or have a dance party in the kitchen while you cook.

It truly doesn’t matter what types of activity you choose — just ensure your child is getting the recommend 60 minutes of physical activity in most days of the week.

Want more information about ways you keep your child at a healthy weight? Read our blog “Fighting back against childhood obesity: One family at a time.”

A back-to-school checkup is an important part of getting ready for school. Has your child seen the doctor recently? Find a doctor here.