As always, summer flew by! Now that we’re heading towards back-to-school time, it’s important to start thinking about what needs to be done, such as making healthcare appointments, re-establishing routines, stocking up on supplies and getting the kids excited for what’s ahead. To help, we’ve created a checklist designed to kick off a safe start for the school year.
- Schedule any healthcare appointments you’ve been putting off. Between booking physicals, routine vaccinations, dental cleanings and eye exams, getting your child up-to-date on all of their healthcare needs can feel like a full-time job! Set aside time to get all of your appointments on the books now, so you won’t have to interrupt any learning early in the year.
- Update your child’s school health records. Be sure and let your school administration know of any changes to your child’s health, including allergies, health conditions or any medications they might need.
- Refill any prescriptions and fill out the proper paperwork. If your child will need to bring prescription medications to school, be sure and have those refilled and ready. If you’ll be keeping a portion of the medication at home, you can ask the pharmacist to divide it into two containers, if applicable. Don’t forget to ask your school for medication administration paperwork, so you and your healthcare provider can fill out the proper forms.
- Stock up on school supplies. In addition to the list that your school provides for supplies, there are some health and safety items that could be useful for your child. Consider purchasing hand sanitizer, hand sanitizing wipes, tissues and a water bottle for your child to use. In addition, if your child feels comfortable wearing a face mask, make sure you have enough of those on hand.
- Practice hand-washing and other healthy habits at home. Frequent handwashing with soap and water is a reliable way of killing germs and lowering your child’s risk of getting ill. Of course, kids are kids, and often they’ll forget to wash their hands. Remind them of how important it is and encourage them to make it a habit. Prime them to stay healthy during the school year, so they don’t get sick and miss out.
- Gradually bring back the school sleep routine. If bedtimes and wake-up calls have gotten a little later this summer, you’re not alone. Try and ease your child back into the swing of things before the school year begins, so it’s not such a shock. To help guide you, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sleep guide, which lists how much sleep people need at every age.
- Talk to your child about school. What can they expect? What are they nervous about? What are some things that they can look forward to this year? Open the lines of communication before school begins, and be sure to keep them open throughout the year. If your child seems to be struggling, or if you suspect they’re being bullied, talk to their teacher about what’s going on and ask what you can do to help.
- Create a clean, well-lit space for homework. This should be an area that’s free of loud noises and distractions so that your child can concentrate and do their best work on a consistent basis.
- Get creative in the kitchen. When school starts, the pace seems to pick up around the house. Before the chaos settles in, make a list of easy meal ideas—for breakfast as well as lunch—and have some grab-and-go snacks on hand. Some ideas include sliced apples and nut butter, cheese sticks, hummus and veggies, grapes, sandwiches (breakfast and lunch), smoothies, fruit and yogurt parfaits, avocado toast, pesto pasta, granola bars, nuts and dried fruit, cottage cheese with fruit and anything else you can dream up that you know your kids will eat. Enlist the rest of the family to share ideas, and help with the prep, too.
- Practice the route to school. If your child is going to a new school, make sure they’re familiar with where they’re going. Whether they’re biking, walking or taking the bus, plan a practice run with them so they feel comfortable with the navigation. Along the way, remind them of any necessary safety precautions, like don’t talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, obey traffic signs and signals, wear a bike helmet when riding, etc. If you’re driving the child to school, or if your teens are driving themselves, be sure and brush up on traffic laws, like slowing down in school zones and never passing a loading or unloading school bus.
- Select a backpack based on comfort, not fashion. Backpacks can get very heavy for little people! When choosing one for your child, make sure it’s lightweight, and has padded straps and a padded back. And remind your child to use both straps so that they spread out the weight of their books and lower the risk of potential injuries.
- Discuss an emergency plan. Unexpected things happen. By planning for the unexpected, you and your family will know how to spring into action if needed. First, make sure your child knows your phone number and address, in case they need to call or find you (place an emergency card with this information into their backpack, as well). Also, let them know that if something happens to you while they’re at school, an adult they know will pick them up (share the names of two or three trusted individuals). Remind them to never trust a stranger. Choose a code word that the whole family knows that can be shared in case of an unexpected event and an unplanned pick-up.
- If your child is sick, keep them home. It’s better for their health to let them rest and heal. And you’ll help protect other kids from getting sick, at the same time.
- Make the most of the final days of summer. Rushed mornings and homework-filled evenings will be here before you know it. Be sure and pay tribute to the final days of summer before it ends! Ask the kids to make a list of all the things they still want to do and the places they want to go before it’s time to crack open the books for another year of learning.
Back-to-school is an exciting time for families. It’s a fresh start, and an opportunity for kids to learn, grow and make new friends. By planning ahead and talking to your child about what to expect, you can set the scene for an A+ year.