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Published on August 29, 2013

Ready for Roll Call: 15 Tips to Prepare Your Kids for the School Year

From sleep to nutrition, Dean Clinic Pediatrician Kari Hegeman, MD has advice on getting the school year off to a good start.

When school begins, it’s a great time for your entire family to set up new routines and get organized. This fall, try these 15 time-tested and pediatrician-approved tips to make the school year even better for your children.

Reduce stress and anxiety.

Starting a school year or transferring to a new school is often a main source of anxiety for a child and can affect an entire family.
One of the best ways parents can prepare their kids for success in school is to prepare themselves. That means getting organized, planning in advance, and creating routines. Children feel their parents’ stress, so parents should adopt good strategies to make life smoother and calmer for everyone.

Try these tips:
1. Create a regular morning routine with ample time allocations.
2. Shop for supplies and clothing before your kids need them.
3. Create a place to put backpacks, jackets, shoes, lunchboxes and projects.
4. Give kids specific age-appropriate responsibilities such as assisting with breakfast, organizing their backpacks and reviewing schedules.
5. Talk often about expectations regarding homework, seeing old friends, making new ones, meeting new teachers and how school can be exciting, fun and rewarding.

Focus on good sleep.

Aside from affecting school performance, sleep deprivation in children has been linked with potentially serious health issues including anxiety and depression, obesity, diabetes, immunity problems and even ADHD. 
Sleep affects so many different aspects of our children’s lives and their parents’ lives. As parents, we can encourage good sleep by staying calm, organized, firm and reassuring.

Here are some ways to improve your child’s sleep:
6. Set a regular bedtime each night and stick to it.
7. Precede bedtime with a quiet and relaxing routine which might include reading, talking, quiet music, and dim lighting.
8. Keep devices like televisions and computers out of bedrooms.
9. Keep noise levels low, rooms dark and air temperatures slightly cool.
10. Set an example for your children by observing these tips yourself and valuing quality sleep.

Eat well.

Good nutrition is key for children, but sometimes if mornings are chaotic and breakfast gets skipped. That sets off a chain reaction of nutritional problems throughout the day. With a little planning, a good nutritious breakfast will always be part of the morning routine.

What are some things you can do to improve your child’s nutrition?
11. Never skip breakfast.
12. Have your child drink a glass of water in the morning to encourage good hydration.
13. Pack nutritious lunches with plenty of fruits and veggies.
14. Prepare after-school snacks like carrots, grapes and apples.
15. Review school lunch menus together with your child to evaluate likes, dislikes and overall nutrition.

With these 15 common-sense tips, you and your children can look forward to a fun, productive school year that doesn’t leave everyone frazzled. Establishing routines, getting good sleep and eating well are all common-sense ways to help your children be their best.

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