Back to School Tips

Getting back to the school schedule after a long summer, can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks to help you and your kids get off to the right start...

Brain Power!!!

Schools often given summer reading lists and encourage you to get in some reading, writing and arithmetic during the summer months. But I'm also a firm beleiver that you can over do it as well. Let your kids be kids and enjoy the summer. There are plenty of ways you can get in some reading, write and math skills on a daily/weekly basis without your kids even realizing that they are doing work! (best kind of parenting in my book!) Have your kids help you with writing the weekly to do lists or shopping list. Send letters to friends and family, or have them keep a journal. One thing I love doing with my own kids is playing a lot of games - card games, board games, etc. Most games will have the kids working on reading skills or number skills - so they are learning and keeping their brains "fresh" without even noticing!

Summer camps are always fun too. My children attended Camp Invention here at Baker over the summer and it was a great learning opportunity. MCPS offers several different camps through the summer (and school year) to help expand your kids' interest in different activities.

Healthy Bodies = Healthy Minds

Proper nutrition is super important for everyone to be healthy - especially kids! Their bodies and brains are growing at a rapid pace and if you fuel their bodies with nutrient dense food, they will be able to funtion at their highest potential. Even though I always try to put the highest priority on my family's health, I also understand that it can be a lot easier to buy packaged food and run through the drive through. But during the stages in our life where I've depended too much on that, I see the negative effects it has on my kids (and myself). When my children don't consume healthy foods on a regular basis, I see it surface in their sleep, attitude, concentration, and activity levels. Limit sugars and carbohydrates. Stick to fresh REAL food. If there is a long list of ingredients (or even if your food comes in a box), it's probably not the best option. Here are some tips I have found that have helped my family eat healthy:

  • Buy plenty of fresh fruits and veggies each week and have your kids help you wash, cut and prepare them and put 1-2 servings of this healthy food in individual ziploc baggies or food storage containers. (I bought my kids some plastic, kid friendly cutting knives, that allow them to help cut without the risk of cutting themselves - best investment ever!)
  • Once your food is chopped and in individual serving sizes, store it in the fridge at eye level to your kiddos. This will help ensure that when they open the fridge 80 times a day looknig for more food, the fruit and veggies will be the first thing they see!
  • Take your kids to the grocery store with you! Give them some ownership in what their food choices are. That will go a long way! As long as you shop the perimiter of the store, their snack choices will be pretty good!

Quality Sleep

Good, quality sleep cannot be stressed enough! Summer break can be full of excitement and adventure and late nights, but it is important kids get enough sleep. Try to ease back into an earlier bed time (and rise and shine time) a few weeks before school starts. This will help your kids' bodies adjust to a change in schedule. Even once school as started, there's bound to be a few late nights here and there. Be aware of how sleep changes affect your kids and make changes as needed.

One thing I see and hear a lot as a school counselor is how many kids are staying up late in front of screens (t.v., video games, etc.). Screen time before bed can cause a very restless night... even if your children get tucked in at a decent hour. Try to limit (or avoid all together) any screen time at least an hour before bedtime.

Fresh air!!!

Make sure your kids are spending plenty of time outdoors! Another thing I hear all too often from my students is that they play video games ALL THE TIME. Even if video games are a favorite hobby for your kids, limit their screen time and have them get some fresh air. Running around and staying active is very important for brain development and growing strong, healthy kids.

Interested in more great tips and tricks for healthy, happy kids and getting back into the grove for school? Click here for a link to a great article from Today's Parent.