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Your Healthy Family: Tips for a healthy start to the school year

Posted at 10:21 AM, Aug 06, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-09 11:27:47-04

Like it or not, a new school year is fast approaching.

The good news is there are steps families can take now to help their children successfully transition from summer time to school time.

Kim Giuliano, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s said weaning youngsters off of screens is a good place to start.

“Children who are exposed to electronics have a harder time paying attention and focusing and tend to be more anxious and irritable,” she said. “It is really important for your child to have a smart, high-functioning and less emotional brain at the start of the school year, to think about starting to get back to some of those healthier electronic habits.”

Doctor Giuliano said limiting screen time to 20 or 30 minute increments throughout the day is a good place to start.

Adjusting sleep schedules prior to the first day of school is important as well.

“If we’ve fallen into some summer sleeping habits that don’t coincide with what we want our school schedule to be, it’s good to start trying a few weeks in advance,” said Dr. Giuliano. “Putting the child to bed just 10-15 minutes earlier, do that for a couple of nights, and then once that’s a little bit easier then another 10-15 minutes earlier and so on, and so forth.”

It’s common for kids to be nervous about going back to school. Dr. Giuliano recommends talking to children about fears and reassuring them – a trip to the school may be helpful too.

“Some schools will let you come visit, so if that’s an opportunity, that’s wonderful,” she said. “Other school buildings aren’t necessarily open in the summertime, but even just parking in the parking lot and walking up to the door, looking around the school premise, could help a child to feel more comfortable.”

Practicing a child’s morning routine about a week before school starts can help ease jitters, but Dr. Giuliano warns that practicing too far in advance can lead to additional apprehension.

In addition, children may be required to provide up to date vaccine records when enrolling in a new school. If a child has not had vaccines in a few years, it’s a good idea to check and make sure they’re up to date.