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The summer season is winding down, which means it’s almost time for kids of all ages to head back to school.

Whether you’re sending a child to elementary, middle or high school, getting back into the school day routine is important to reduce stress and make the school year a success.  

Here are 10 ways to start preparing for the new school year: 

1. Make sure immunizations are up to date

Getting immunized helps prevent the spread of disease, and most schools require children to follow an immunization schedule before they get to school.  

“Measles, mumps and rubella are some of the more threatening diseases you want to make sure your child doesn’t catch, or spread to others,” said Geisinger pediatrician Christopher R. Holtz, D.O. “If your child is unvaccinated for measles, for example, he or she can catch it just by entering a room that an infected person recently occupied.” 

Late summer is a good time to review records and make a doctor’s appointment for any needed immunizations. You might also want to consult your pediatrician about getting a flu shot for your child. 

2. Create a sleep routine

Your kids might be used to a later bedtime (or no bedtime at all) during the summer months, but now it’s time to make sure they’ll be prepared for an earlier wake up call.  

Starting about two weeks before the first day of school, set a bedtime for your kids only a little earlier than their summer bedtime. Make it a little earlier each day until, maybe two or three days before school starts, you reach their school year bedtime. 

3. Review hand-washing techniques

Spending time with lots of other kids and sharing desks, books and seats at the cafeteria are all great ways to spread germs. Remind your kids of good hand-washing techniques, especially if they’re younger. Use soap and warm water, and wash your hands for about as long as it would take to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. 

“Some studies have shown that common illnesses, such as colds and stomach viruses, can be reduced in children by as much as 50 percent through regular hand washing,” said Dr. Holtz. It’s a good practice to wash their hands before and after their lunch period. Hand sanitizer can take the place of hand washing occasionally, but it’s important not to rely on that too much.  

4. Start eating healthy breakfasts

Kids who eat breakfast regularly are usually healthier, have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight and participate more in physical activities. Some of the symptoms of skipping breakfast can be fatigue, irritability or restlessness.

Try to find something quick and easy—such as fresh fruit, cereal and nuts—that is high in whole grain, fiber and protein while low in added sugar. 

5. Make sure the whiteboard’s in view

No parent wants to find out their child has poor vision after his or her grades suffer. Take the time before school starts to get your child’s vision checked to ensure the whiteboard or chalkboard will be easy to read during class.

6. Pack healthy snacks and lunches

Whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables are four of the big criteria of a healthy lunch that you can easily pack at home the night before. A turkey and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with a fruit snack is one example.  

If your kids prefer to buy lunch at school, it’s important to educate them on making good food choices like always taking that piece of fruit and eating vegetables with every meal.

7. Get organized

A school day morning can feel like a bit of a whirlwind. Make it less stressful and easier to get out the door by establishing a spot where your child can keep his or her backpack and other school accessories. This will cut down on the hustle and bustle each day.  

8. Get some exercise

With the daily grind of getting on the school bus, sitting through eight hours of classes, bussing home and then doing homework, kids don’t have the time to go outside and get some exercise while they play the way they do during the summer. If they’re not getting enough sleep, it’s also easier for them use their free time for sedentary activities like watching television and playing video games. 

“It’s important to make sure your kids’ lives are balanced,” said Dr. Holtz. “Make sure that they step away from the screens or the couch and get exercise each day, especially on days when they don’t have gym class.” 

9. Plan for sick days

If there isn’t an adult at home at all times, it’s best to create a sick-day plan before school starts so you know what to do if and when it happens. Even more of a potential inconvenience, you need to know what to do if you get a call at work from the school nurse letting you know your child is sick and needs to be picked up. 

If you might have trouble dropping everything to head to your kid’s school, check to see if the school allows anyone other than a child’s parent or guardian to remove the kid from school. If so, make sure you have prepared and submitted the paperwork that is likely required. 

10. Circle ‘Back to School Night’ on your calendar
Back to School Nights are good opportunities to meet your child’s teachers and the rest of the school staff with whom you might interact throughout the year. You’ll get a sense for the learning environment, expectations for the year, as well as school policies.
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