This time of year, nearly every parent starts feeling mildly overwhelmed as the back-to-school rush starts. Between school-supply shopping, scheduling routine wellness exams and picking out a wardrobe for the school year, there almost too many things to keep track of.
So, to help you navigate this hectic time, Howard Ellis, MD, a pediatrician with Gwinnett Medical Group’s Mason Pediatrics, provides key ways to make this the best school year yet—not just for your child, but for you, too. Keep these expert tips in mind to conquer this school year like a pro!
Early to bed, early to rise.
Summertime and sleep routines don’t usually go together. However, to help children and teens adjust to the earlier wake-up times that school demands, start by making slight changes to their sleep schedule. Even moving their bedtime back in 15-minute increments each night will make a difference.
Keep in mind that school aged children need nine to 12 hours of sleep, while teens need more like eight to 10 hours.
Dress for success.
While your student may think that picking out the most stylish clothes should be the top priority, it’s important to not overlook things like backpacks and shoes. Surprisingly, these two things can have a big impact on the health and comfort of your child.
When it comes to picking out back-packs, focus on shoulder straps. Make sure that they are durable and will evenly distribute weight across your child’s back. Between their textbooks and electronic gear, backpacks can easily weigh your child down.
As far as shoes go, it can be tricky to find a pair that can keep up with your child’s growing feet. If shoes don’t fit well, this can irritate their feet and lead to a number of issues, like bunions, corns, hammer toes, and pain.
When picking out shoes, remember, your child should be able to wiggle their toes freely inside the shoe and shoes should be slightly loose so that as feet swell throughout the day, they don’t feel too tight.
Keep it delicious—and nutritious.
Despite your best intentions in trying to keep your child’s diet balanced and healthy, it’s often easier said than done. Ideally, children should be eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
So what’s the secret to getting your child to eat all of these different foods? Let them pick it out. Instead of taking them to the store with you, which can be notoriously dangerous with endless unhealthy options, give them a list of choices in each of these healthy food groups and let them select their favorites. This is a great technique to use for both breakfast and lunch.
Arrive in style.
Surprisingly, recent studies have shown that riding the bus is 13 times safer than riding in the family vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. While school buses are designed with safety in mind, remember these tips:
• While waiting for the bus, make sure your child stays away from traffic, alleys or private property.
• Make sure they avoid roughhousing or other distracting behavior—like playing with toys or looking at their cell phone.
• When on the bus, remind your child that they should stay in their seat, keep aisles clear and don’t make loud noises that could distract the driver. Also, make sure they don’t put their head, arms or hands out the windows.
If you plan to drive your child to school, utilize the National Safety Council’s safety tips.
Confidence is key.
Self-esteem and confidence may not be an issue for younger children, but for older ones, middle school and high school students, self-image can take quite a hit. There are a number of factors that can contribute to self-doubt at this age, but the good news is, there are simple ways you can give them a much-needed confidence boost.
While your child may go through a bit of a learning curve when it comes to curfew or other rules at home and school, focus on what they do right instead of wrong. Praise their good choices and things done well.
Seek your child’s opinions, and include them in family decisions.
This is a time for self-discovery, so encourage your child to find their strengths and things they enjoy doing. Whether that’s participating in sports, drama club or art programs, there is no shortage of options.
Support your child’s efforts to make friends. Help them stay socially involved and offer to organize get-togethers as desired.
Your child + GMG Primary Care = A healthy school year.
With a never-ending list of things to do before the start of the school year, let Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care take care of all things health. At Mason Pediatrics, a GMG Practice, your child will receive customized care that grows with their needs. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit gwinnettmedicalgroup.com/mason.