By: Dr. Caison-Sorey, associate medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
As summer ends, the thought of back-to-school to-dos can be overwhelming. In fact, a recent study found 80 percent of parents experience anxiety during this time of year; many admitting they feel more stressed than they do during the holidays. To make the back-to-school transition less stressful and more fun, families can stay organized with this checklist:
- Adjust Schedules: In preparation for school, parents should consider adjusting their child’s bedtime schedule by ten minutes each day starting two weeks before the first day of school. Children who get the recommended amount of sleep are shown to be more active, have better grades and are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety/depression. As a family, create a nighttime routine to prepare everyone for the day ahead. Shower before bed, pick out outfits and make sure backpacks and lunches are packed. Allow for screen-free “quiet time” in the evenings to help the kids unwind and relax. This can also improve sleep quality.
- Choose Extracurricular Activities: To avoid unnecessary stress during the first few weeks of the school year, parents can sign kids up for an activity in advance. Whether it’s team sports, art, music or academic activities, extracurricular activities can positively impact a child’s self- esteem and give them something to look forward to during the school year. If a child is unsure about the kind of activity they’d like to pursue, encourage them to try different activities to find the best fit. Setting a child p for success in activities and/or sports can be particularly rewarding.
- Shop Smart: Depending on a child’s grade, the cost of school supplies can add up quickly. To save money, keep an eye out for coupons and check out local dollar stores that sell supplies at a lower cost. As for clothes, compare online and in-store prices throughout the year or reach out to family for gently-used clothes or other school items to help keep the cost down. Many stores run deeply discounted sales leading up to the start of the school year.
- Plan Healthy Lunches: Packing healthy lunches is one thing – getting the kids to eat them is another. In weeks leading up to the new school year, educate the family about the importance of good nutrition and how to make healthy decisions on their own. Make things fun by encouraging them to “eat the rainbow,” or consume red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple and white or brown produce daily. The more fresh and colorful a lunch plate is, the better. It’s also important to review school lunch menus and discuss which options are healthy, so they have an idea of what to choose on days they don’t pack lunch.
Visit the Doctor: According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, children in grades K-12 are required to receive the recommended vaccines in order to attend Michigan schools. To avoid the stress of scheduling last-minute doctor visits, set reminders in the weeks or months leading up to the school year. Come prepared with information about the child’s health needs, along with any school paperwork needed for athletic participation. Checking the school website for physical forms or immunization requirements can be a great head start.
Dr. Caison-Sorey is an associate medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit AHealthierMichigan.org.
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