Healthy School Year Habits Start in the Summer

It’s not quite “Back-to-School” yet, but it’s never too early to start preparing for a healthy transition.

While your kids are still savoring these final weeks of summer fun and freedom, the 2019-2020 school year is just around the corner, and soon the chaos of school supplies shopping and packing lunches will settle in. This August, try to get ahead of the back-to-school rush. There are plenty of healthy habits and minor adjustments that you can start implementing into your childrens’ daily schedule to make the transition a little easier when the first day of school arrives.

As a parent, this can be an overwhelming period of time. However, it is also the perfect opportunity to check up on your child’s health before the school year picks up. Here are some doctor-approved tips on how to make your child’s back-to-school process easy, healthy, and stress-free (for the whole family!).

Managing the Transition 

As summer vacation winds to an end, the transition from summer camps and constant playtime to early mornings and packed lunches might seem less than exciting.  But back-to-school doesn’t have to be daunting; a new school year means new chances for your child to learn and grow.

Now is the time to start the transition. Major changes to your day-to-day schedule might include adjusting morning routines, sleep schedules, snacks and meals, and physical activity. The sooner you begin these adjustments, the easier it will be when it’s time to return to school.

Getting Back into Routines

Breaking summer habits can be difficult. Getting comfortable with new school year habits is even harder.

Mornings, in particular, tend to be the hardest part about adjusting to a weekday school schedule. Turning A.M. tasks into pre-bedtime routines can help you avoid a hectic morning. Try packing lunches, laying out clothes, gathering school supplies, and loading backpacks the night before.

Try other small routines like a nightly bedtime story, morning music jam sessions, or a daily afternoon snack prepared when your child gets home from school. Fun, consistent activities that your kids can look forward to will help make the transition a little easier.

Promoting a Healthy Sleep Schedule 

Establishing a consistent sleep routine is one of the most important things to consider before the school year starts. To ensure your kids aren’t on a crazy sleep schedule during the first week of school, start adjusting bedtimes a few weeks in preparation. Use this helpful guide to figure out how many hours of sleep your child should be getting each night.

As parents, we know how crucial getting a good night’s sleep is to our physical and mental health. A healthy sleep pattern helps students feel more alert and pay better attention in the classroom.

Eating Well-Balanced Meals

When it comes to back-to-school meal prep, it is important to fuel your childrens’ minds and bodies, keeping them healthy and ready to learn.

Don’t forget, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day! Now that you’ve officially gotten into a healthy, consistent sleep schedule, your kids are likely sleeping anywhere from 8 to 12 hours before they wake up in the morning for school. That’s a long time for the body to go without anything to eat. It’s important to start the day with a full, nutritious breakfast. A consistent, balanced breakfast gives children the essential nutrients and energy they need for healthy growth and development. Plus, research suggests that eating breakfast daily has long-term effects such as improved memory, better behavior, stronger test grades, better school attendance, and helps to combat fatigue or trouble concentrating.

Check out some easy, creative, kid-favorite breakfast recipes here.

Whether your child purchases lunch at school or brings it from home, it is important that they consume a healthy and nutritious meal to provide the fuel they need for their school day.  Refer to this helpful article on how to teach your kids to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. If your children attend Loudoun County Public Schools, you can review your school’s menu starting on August 15 here.

If you are packing a lunch for your child, it is important to be aware of food safety risks. Always be sure to pack perishable items a frozen ice pack in an insulated bag.  Here’s another great guide to teaching your kids to pack their own school lunch.

Finally, when the school day is over and it’s time to sit down for dinner, it’s important to do so as a family. Routine family meals are a great chance for your family members to come together, hear about one another’s days, and build stronger relationships. Plus, researchers have found that dinnertime conversation boosts young children’s vocabulary.

More Activities, Less Screen Time

Make the most of the final days of summer fun. This means more time outside and less time in front of tablets, smartphones, and TV. Check out our former blog post on the importance of controlling screen time to learn the long-term effects of too much digital use, important apps parents should know, and how to enforce limiting time spent online. For some fun ideas on how to encourage active, outdoor play, read our “Trading Fortnight for Fitness” blog.