By Beth Aldrich
The dog days of summer are upon us, popsicles in hand, sprinklers spinning, and not a care in the world for most school-aged children; but in a few short weeks…move over summer, here comes the school year!
The beginning of the school year marks the time when parents and students alike get back in step with schedules, organizing their home and getting off on the right foot for the entire year. Most parents get excited, remembering their childhood memories and “butterflies” of getting ready for school, as they get everything pulled together from classroom lists to new lunch goodies for their children. Children are eager and ready to start school and adjust to the change in schedule and pace, as they check their “to-do” and supply lists with their parents.
To help ease the transition from summertime fun to school time excitement, here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind to promote a favorable experience for parents and children:
Make a list of healthy-living goals for the entire family for the school year and post them in a visible location. This creates accountability. Goals could include allotting at least 30 minutes to reading before bed or practicing spelling words while walking before or after dinner.
Start every day right with a healthy breakfast such as oatmeal, eggs or fruit. Breakfast is the meal that keeps you going all day.
Avoid the morning rush. Develop a smooth morning routine and follow it religiously to avoid tardiness and stress. Happy mornings equal happy students.
Adults and children should get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Make bedtime more enjoyable for everyone by establishing a routine of bath-time followed by reading-time and instill good sleeping and reading habits by following this routine as much as possible.
Stay organized, create structure and “places” for everything — and within reach — so your child knows where to find things and can rely on them being there.
Regularly have your child’s eyes examined. Twenty-five percent of children struggle with vision problems that could impact learning. Eighty percent of everything a child learns in his first 12 years comes the eyes. If corrective lenses are needed, select lighter, stronger and safer lenses such as Airwear.
Help your child be proactive with homework and studying. Work on your own projects alongside your child to model work behavior and to show support.
Pack smart, healthy and well-balanced lunches that include fiber-rich fruits, veggies with healthy dipping sauces and water in reusable water bottles. Coordinate a trip to your local vegetable farm or farmer’s market, giving your kids money and full control of lunch-box ingredients. On packaged foods, encourage kids to read labels to be mindful of what’s going into their bodies.
Take an active role in your child’s learning and development by volunteering at school, coaching after-school activities or organizing active, educational gatherings. Keep the spirit of the activity positive and applaud each child for his/her own contributions. When home, hang your child’s work proudly for the entire family to see.
When your child succeeds, enthusiastically share the newswith family members, letting her know your excitement for her achievements and hard work.
Feed the imagination by creating balance between scheduled and non-scheduled, spontaneous activities. Kids watch everything you do; so if you’re over-scheduled and over-worked, they’ll emulate that behavior. Learn to relax so your kids can, too.
Teach your children the value of uninterrupted, unpowered alone time. This includes reading, napping, playing outside, climbing trees — anything that exercises the mind, body and soul and doesn’t include vegging out in front of the TV or game station.
Beth Aldrich is a Certified Health Counselor, Healthy Lifestyle-Green Living Media Expert and Spokesperson, author of the upcoming book, “Real Moms Love to Eat” (Penguin Books, 2011), and mother of three school-aged boys living in Chicago.