Health Education

Back to School

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Back to School: Getting Ready Right

The beginning of a new school year can be very exciting, but it can also be a little scary. A positive experience on the first day of school can make the rest of the year run smoothly. Some ways to make the first day of school an easy transition include:

  • Remind your child that he or she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Everyone is really in the same position.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. He or she will see old friends and meet new friends.
  • Refresh him or her memory about previous years, when he or she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because it was a good time.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.
  • If your child is older, have him offer to walk with or wait at the bus stop with a new or younger child. If your child is a bit more introverted, there is nothing wrong with driving (or walking) him or her to school and picking him or her up on the first day.
  • pending on the age of the child, you may need to take a different approach to the new school year:
  • For children 1-5 year olds: learning occurs with talking, singing, and interactive reading. Games incorporating physical activity are new and exciting. New skills include playing alone and with others, being assertive without being aggressive, and being able to express feelings and emotions.
  • For 5-11 year olds or school-age children: there is a real need to prepare for classroom activities. At this age, lots of praise will go a long way. Encourage talking, interactive reading, and individual attention, epically if there are siblings. It is important to teach respect for authority and leaning right from wrong, Skills include learning how to resolve conflicts and handle anger. As a parent, you need to set reasonable but challenging expectations for home and school responsibilities. Encourage your child to become active in the community, in sporting events and in after school activities.
  • For adolescents and young adults: making the transitions to middle school, high school, or beyond are about learning personal accountability and responsibility. It is important to identify and assist with school frustrations and prevent school dropout or academic decline. Encourage participation in school activities and discuss talents, and future interests and goals. Also, talk frankly about drinking alcohol and smoking.

What about an approach to bullying?

Give your child some strategies for coping with bullies. She should not give in to a bully's demands, but should simply walk away or tell the bully to stop. Most so-called bullying behavior is really just teasing by a socially awkward child. For true bullies, empower your child to understand that the bully is the one who needs help. 50% of bullies have a parent who is the same and since they have not had any role modeling at home, they need modeling from another adult who in this case is the teacher. Teach your child to assertively ask the teacher for help with the offending child. If you have to, talk with the teacher about a persistent bully. Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus. If your child is older, have her offer to walk with or wait at the bus stop with a new or younger child.

How should I get my child ready for homework?

Starting school means starting homework. Children learn better when they are not distracted by hunger. Encourage your child to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch. Once at home, try to provide a positive homework atmosphere for your child that is free of clutter and distractions, including television. Show your child you are interested in her work. Re- explain assignments if necessary, and check to see that homework is completed. If you are having trouble fitting homework into your child's schedule you may need to cut back on her activities, or see that after-school care includes supervised time. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren't able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution.

What about backpacks?

Remind children to carry the minimum load, and pack heavier items first, so they are closest to the back. When picking up a pack, bend with both knees and lift with the legs. Select smaller packs for smaller children. Look for packs with wide, heavily padded shoulder straps. The shoulder straps should be fastened so the pack hugs the center of the back. Waist and side straps may help keep the pack close up against the back. Always wear both straps so the weight is evenly divided. Use a wheeled backpack when possible.

What are safety issues I need to be concerned about?

  • School bus safety: For some 23 million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. Unfortunately, each year many youngsters are injured in school bus incidents. Review the basic bus safety rules with your child such as waiting for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb, not moving around on the bus, and looking for traffic before crossing the street to the bus.
  • Walking or bike riding to school: If your child bikes to school make sure he or she wears a helmet. Bikers should also wear bright, light colored clothing, and, when it is getting dark, they should wear markers that reflect light. If your child fears other people he or she may meet on the way to school, help plan other routes for your child to take to school or talk with the school principal about this.
  • Playground safety: Every 2.5 minutes a child is injured on a playground in the United States. You can help prevent injuries by following a few simple rules:
  • Allow play only on age appropriate playground equipment. For example, don't let young children play on high climbing equipment such as monkey bars.
  • Keep all children off equipment from which they might fall six or more feet.
  • Check the surface under playground equipment, hardwood fiber, mulch chips, pea gravel, fine sand, or shredded rubber are best due to their increased ability to cushion a fall.
  • Remove or cut the hood and neck drawstrings from coats and sweaters can prevent entanglement and strangulation while playing on slides and other playground equipment.
  • Make sure spaces that could trap children's heads, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches (so children can't get their heads in) or more than 9 inches (so they can get out).
  • Check playground equipment to make sure it is in good repair, without jagged edges or sharp points.

How should I teach my child about strangers?

Regardless of how they travel to school, teach your children not to talk to strangers. Although it may be hard for you, talk frankly with your children and teach them some common tricks of child molesters. You might want to play out these situations with your child. Ask, “What would you do if…” Someone asks for directions and wants you to get into a car? Someone asks for help in looking for a lost pet and leads you into an isolated area? Someone asks to take your picture for a TV ad and invites you into their house or apartment? If they walk a long distance in a tough neighborhood, it may be helpful to give your child a whistle to blow if they are in danger or provide them with a cell phone. Teach them how to call 911. Communicate with the school, always call the school if your child will be absent and make sure the school knows how to contact you if your child does not show up. Tell your child how to contact you at home or work and explain that she should leave detailed messages if there is an emergency. Arrange for other parents to take your children in an emergency or if you are going to be late.

What immunizations will my child need for school?

Prior to staring kindergarten, most schools require that your child have completed their series of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), polio (IPV), hepatitis B (Hep B), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) and chicken pox( or Varicella). At 11 years old, they will also need a tetanus/whooping cough booster (Tdap) and a meningitis vaccine.