Back-to-school time takes some real planning ahead, in order to make the transition from a carefree summer to a more regimented schedule. I have a to-do list each years of things that help my girls start off their year happy and healthy.
1. About two weeks before, the girls start going to bed at their regular "school year" time and I start waking them a bit earlier each morning. The last couple of days before school, I wake them at the time they will need to be getting up. This ensures that they won't arrive home dog tired on their first day. I'm sure they appreciate being eased into their school-time schedule.
2. Each child is also scheduled for a complete physical, even if they seem to be fine. It assures me that they are starting off the year with a clean bill of health. Though they may not want to, it's a good time for teen girls to begin visiting a gynecologist and becoming comfortable with it. None of us ladies like this, but it's just a fact of life and a very important one at that.
3. Eye exams are extremely important. A child can have bad vision and not even realize it and their vision can change from year to year, with problems arising seemingly from out of the blue. Poor vision can effect school work, sports performance, and even social interaction. A yearly eye exam is a must. Especially since some eye problems can be easily corrected if caught early.
4. Just as their eyes and general health need attention, so does their hearing. Poor hearing can also effect school performance and other areas of life. Hearing loss can effect a child's speech as well.A yearly check up is quick and easy and shouldn't be ignored.
5. Twice yearly dental exams will catch and small cavities early on. Also, visiting the dentist helps keep caring for their teeth at the front of their minds. Find a dentist that both you and your child are comfortable with. DO your homework and ask friends that have children for suggestions. When a child has a bad dental experience, it could effect whether they continue to get checkups as adults.
6. The time to discuss bullying is before the first day of school. Ask your child if they have ever been bullied or have ever bullied someone else. Discuss how they handled the situation. Try not to criticize, but make suggestions on better ways to handle it. Make sure they know that they should come to you or another adult if they have a problem or see another child having a problem. Let them know just how important it is to nip bullying problems in the bud and that ignoring the problem will not improve matters.
7. Have age appropriate discussions concerning drinking, smoking, or drug use. Maybe give examples of how you handled peer pressure, when you were in school. Stress how important it is for them to report any illegal behavior they might see or hear about.
8. Discuss stranger danger. Let them know to report any person that may approach them en route to school or on the school grounds. Again, make the discussion age appropriate. The important thing is to make your child informed and give them the tools to stay safe, without frightening them. This is also a good time to discuss inappropriate touching etc...
9. Go over whether your child wishes to eat the meals served at school or if he/she would rather pack. The main thing is that they will have a meal each day that they will actually eat. If the school is serving nutritious meals that are being tossed in the trash, that isn't healthy at all. Discuss how it's OK to indulge in a treat from the snack machines that have invaded our schools, but only occasionally. It's a good idea to keep up with your child's eating habits, especially teens. This age is when eating disorders seem to begin. This goes for females and males.
10. Finally, make sure that your child knows it is OK to talk to you about anything, without being judged. School is a place to learn but, like it or not, it is also the crux of your child's social development and it can be really rough. They need a soft place to fall, when they leave there each day.
A little preparedness goes a long way toward having a safe, happy, and healthy, school year.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Transitions Lenses blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here