August 2013 Healthbeat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share! This month’s column is a “Guest Column” provided by “Mr. Boomsma.”

Back to School Tips

back_to_school_supplies_800_clr_9051When it comes to getting ready for back to school, the one area we get a lot of help with is shopping! Not only are the displays overwhelming, there are often school supply lists available that will help you decide what items your child needs to have in his or backpack. But there’s a lot more to getting ready for school than pencils and rulers. You can help your child prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally as well.

Time was when a trip to the doctor was part of the annual ritual and, while no longer an absolute necessity, a review of any health concerns just makes sense. Annual checkups for children are recommended—making it part of the back to school plan will serve as a reminder. You’ll also want to inform the school of any required medications and allergies.

Re-establish routines and schedules—the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are almost over. Don’t wait until the day before school starts to establish bedtimes and other routines—the recommendation is that families should start forming these new habits at least a week before school starts. If reading hasn’t been a regular activity, you might consider established a pre-bedtime routing of reading. Routines can include establishing places to keep backpacks and lunch bags.

Talk with your child—formally and informally. During the summer one of my standard questions for the kids I meet is “Are you ready to go back to school?” Since this usually evokes only a yes or no answer, if time permits I’ll ask “why?” Obviously the conversation varies depending on age. I recently met a young lady who is excited because this will be her first year in high school. But she also admitted she’s scared. When I asked about her fears, she explained she’s had issues with one older boy while riding the bus and now they are going to be in the same school. We discussed a couple of her options and, while I’m not naïve enough to think the problem is solved, I think we both feel a little better.

These conversations become even more important when school starts. The bullying issue is an important one but the answer is not simply “tell the teacher.” It’s also important not to over-react. We need to allow children to share their concerns and try to teach them coping skills. Younger children especially need support during the transition back to school. Be quick to ask them about their day, take an interest in their work, and understand their nervous. Remember your first day on that new job?!

Partner with the school and teacher. The first weeks of school are busy and unsettled for teachers and staff too. A little patience will go a long way, but teachers do want parents involved. If concerns develop, do not hesitate to contact the teacher and let him or her know of your interest and concern. Take full advantage of things like open houses when parents are encouraged to visit school with their children.

The internet offers a wealth of resource information—a search for “back to school tips” may actually be a great project to start with your child. If there’s a trick, that’s it—to make getting ready for school a family effort with everyone contributing to making this the best year yet!

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