Back-to-school checklist: 5 tips to get in the groove


It’s been a great summer, but it’s time to get everyone back in the groove of classes, sports practice — and getting up early again. Here are some tips to help your kids make a healthy transition back to school.

1. Get bedtimes on track, and tidy up the sleep hygiene.

With early school wake-up calls coming, it’s key for children and teens to get to bed so they get enough quality sleep. Pediatricians recommend that children age 6 to 12 get 9 to 12 hours of sleep a night, and that teens get 8 to 10 hours a night.
Here are some tips to help children and teens get the sleep they need when they return to school.

• Power off the devices.
• Consider darkening shades.

• Ease off caffeine. Your child or teen should stop drinking anything with caffeine, including sodas and energy drinks, after noon. That way, by bedtime, the stimulant will be out of their system.

2. Get your young athlete a sports exam.

Any student who plays a school sport needs a sports physical, which is more focused than an annual wellness checkup. The sports checkup reviews heart and lung health, including diagnosing any breathing or exertion issues like asthma that could be worsened by playing sports. It also includes a sport-specific examination of a child’s muscles and bones.

3. Check your young student’s eyes.

Good vision is critical to children’s success in the classroom.

4. Don’t take “fine” for an answer.

Depression, anxiety, and stress are big health risks to teens and younger kids. To stay in tune with your child’s mood, make sure you engage in real conversations about what’s going on at and after school. Instead of asking “How was school?” which practically invites the non-answer “fine,” see if you can probe a bit more. Ask about specific classes, what the teachers are like, and if your child has made any new friends this year.

5. Make sure backpacks fit well.

As schoolkids get older, they tend to carry heavier books. A load of books with a laptop can weigh as much as 30 pounds. That can spell shoulder, neck, and back strain for young people, and affect their posture.
Make sure your child’s backpack fits well, with padding on the shoulder straps that can be loosened and tightened to ensure a snug fit depending on the contents. 

Paying attention to the big and little issues that face your child heading back to school should help everyone in the family have a happier and healthier year.