As the summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about getting the kids ready for back-to-school—and I don’t just mean buying new school supplies and getting their new schedules because this is also a great time to focus on health and lifestyle fitness. Here are a few healthy tips to help your children transition back to school.
Adjust sleep schedules
Even though letting our kids sleep in later during the summer months may be in your best intentions by August, many kids (especially teenagers) are sleeping much later than regular school wakeup times. In some ways, this is a good thing. Kids do need plenty of sleep, however if they get too used to staying up until midnight and sleeping until noon, the first week of school will be a rude awakening. Literally.
To help ease the transition, gradually wake your kids up earlier each day. It helps if you have a fun activity planned, like biking around a lake or hiking, which will be easier to accomplish in the early morning.
Adjust activity levels
Although some kids take full advantage of the summer months to participate in sports camps or run around the neighborhood, others enjoy the opportunity to read, watch TV, go online or play video games.
As school approaches, start setting limits on screen time. Be prepared with a plan that gets them moving
and keep them engaged like a trip to the pool, yard-work, or a visit to the skating rink.
Upping their activity level doesn’t just get kids ready for gym class, but it can help boost their academic performance and manage the stress involved in starting a new school year.
Every state has different rules about what immunizations are required and when. Most school systems provide you with a list at the end of the year, which tells you the shots that need to be updated.
If your child plays sports, he or she will also need a complete sports physical. USA.gov recommends that all kids have a doctor’s appointment before school starts. Make your appointments early—don’t wait till the last minute or you may not be able to get in before the start of the school year.
This is also a great time to take care of dentist appointments, eye exams, and other specialist appointments—before you have to take time out of school.
Prep the pantry
Although you can’t buy fresh produce far in advance, you can start stocking up on school lunch essentials like whole-wheat crackers, natural nut butters, food storage containers, insulated lunch bags and water bottles.
Talk with your children and plan the items they would like to pack for lunch or have for snack after school. Use this as an opportunity to guide them toward healthy choices like apple slices, celery, spinach, grapes, carrots and lean meats.
Even if your child will be buying school lunch, you should plan healthy afterschool snacks and have easy-to-eat fruits and vegetables on hand. Talk to your lunch-buyers about healthy food choices on the school menu.
photo credit: demandaj