Summer vacation is winding down and it’s almost time for kids to head back to school. The anticipation surrounding the start of a new school year may have you running from store to store, stocking up on an array of school supplies, the latest textbooks and new clothes for your child’s first day – but you’re likely forgetting a few important things. Before the bell rings on the first day, check off these six often-overlooked items from your to-do list.
1. Bring Your Child to the Doctor for Their Annual Physical
Make sure your child is ready to tackle the upcoming year by bringing them in for their annual physical before the summer is over. Illnesses can easily spread on school grounds – take preventative measures by ensuring that they’re up-to-date on their vaccinations and get a head start on filling out the health-related paperwork that the school will require. As a reminder, some Kansas schools now require the meningococcal ACWY vaccine. This is also a great time to ask your pediatrician any questions you may have about your child’s physical and mental health.
2. Address Bullying and the Importance of Managing Anxiety
Bullying is a serious matter that can have significant negative effects on short and long-term mental health. Talk to your child about bullying – including cyberbullying – and its implications. Ask if they have any concerns about going into the school year and encourage them to confide in you if any arise. Urge them to seek a trusted adult figure – teacher or parent –if they witness any bullying among their classmates.
3. Establish a Manageable School Night Routine
Between various afterschool activities, homework assignments, dinner-time and inevitable unplanned obstacles, it can be easy to lose track of time in the evenings. Come up with an easy-to-follow nightly routine that will create flow – from knocking out schoolwork to meeting an agreed-upon bedtime. This will help your child (and you) stay organized and prepared and feel well-rested for the next day. Get useful tips around setting an evening schedule. To avoid the new schedule being a huge change, begin shifting routines around meal and bedtime before school starts.
4. Add Hand Sanitizer to Your “School Supplies” Shopping List
Exposure to germs is unavoidable, especially in school settings when it comes to computer keyboards, water fountains and cafeteria trays. A study surrounding the use of antimicrobial hand-sanitizers in an elementary school found that absences due to illnesses were dramatically reduced when hand sanitizers were used regularly, proving that clean hands are key. In addition to encouraging your child to wash their hands throughout the day, particularly before they eat and after they use the restroom, equip them with a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer to conveniently turn to anytime soap and water isn’t easily accessible. This extra precaution will be especially important during cold and flu season!
5. Use Disinfecting Wipes to Clean Your Child’s New Desk and Locker
It’s unlikely that desks, cubbies and lockers were thoroughly wiped down at the end of the last school year, and even if they were, several months have gone by since. A team of Yale researchers found that germs thrive on school desks and recommend that these areas receive more frequent and thorough cleanings. Before your child moves their belongings into these new spaces, make sure they receive a good cleaning using disinfecting wipes. If you’re unable to access the classroom to help with this prior to the first day of school, send wipes in with your child and have them ask for the teacher’s assistance.
6. Consider Your Child’s Diet
Properly fueling your body is a big factor in a successful school year. Along with helping your child start the day with an energizing breakfast, make sure your they’re educated about the importance of a balanced diet, so they can make smart decisions when choosing school lunches. If the offered lunch options aren’t ideal, use whole grains, seasonal produce and protein sources to prepare hassle-free, yet tasty, lunches ahead of time. Learn how to effectively meal-prep from Blue KC’s Chef Kyle. Pro Tip: To help keep your little one sustained throughout the day, pack healthy, non-perishable snacks that they can store in their backpacks if hunger strikes.
Another important aspect of diet is proper hydration. Let your child choose a refillable water bottle with their favorite design on it. Supplying them with a reusable bottle is a great, sustainable option that will make staying hydrated a breeze. Tell them to simply fill it up at their school’s water fountains throughout the day so that they always have water on-hand!
Back-to-school season is an exciting time for kids – filled with new learning opportunities, friendships and experiences. Make their new start as healthy as it is fun by adding these items to your back-to-school checklist!