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5 Tips for Back-to-School Success

Girl next to a school busIt’s that time of year again! Back-to-school time can be a rush to get school supplies and new clothes, but there’s more to a successful school year. Now is the time to schedule annual physicals, refresh good school-related habits, and­­­ ease any anxiety kids might have about a new class, schedule or school.

  1. Annual physicals are a great way to make sure your child is healthy and ready for the new school year. Visiting the same pediatrician or primary care provider each year helps kids feel more comfortable and ensures that they connect with and trust their doctor. This medical home results in the best, most personalized care that your child can obtain.

  2. As you’re searching for school supplies, be sure to invest in a quality, comfortable backpack that won’t strain your child. Ideally, choose a backpack with two well-cushioned straps. Avoid sling- or messenger-style backpacks; these styles put all of the backpack’s weight on one shoulder and could result in strain.

  3. Back to school often means back to earlier bedtimes for many kids. Children 7- to 16-years-old need 8-12 hours of sleep per night on average. Not meeting the minimum hours of sleep per night children may cause children to have difficulty staying awake or paying attention in school, which could result in lower grades. Convincing your child to go to bed earlier can be difficult, so some early evening exercise could be dually beneficial. For example, taking a walk as a family or playing outside for 30 to 60 minutes would benefit your child by getting them active and would tire them out more for bed. However, avoid exercise too close to bed as this could have the reverse effect as well.

  4. One of the most difficult parts about the school year is ensuring that your child makes healthy choices at school. Start by making sure your child gets a hearty breakfast full of protein, whole grains and vitamins to prepare for the day and keep him or her from getting hungry before lunch. Kids are more prone to choose pizza over a salad, so teach your child the benefits of healthy eating and explore ways to serve fruits and veggies in a way that appeals to your child. If you don’t think your child will make healthy choices for school lunch, consider packing a lunch from home instead.

  5. Reinforce good study habits to ensure that your child gets the most out of his or her classes. Provide a permanent place for your child to study with regularly scheduled breaks to encourage focus and avoid boredom or neck strain. For example, plan 30 minutes of studying followed by a 5- to 10-minute break for a healthy snack or some free play. Avoid TV time as an incentive.

Each school year is a great opportunity for your child to learn, make new friends and try new things. Let’s work together to make this the best one yet! To find a Mercy pediatrician or primary care provider, call our Find-A-Doc line at (319) 369-4444.