Back to school is a busy time for families. These tips from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta may help you make the transition and keep students safe and healthy during the school year.
Every August, Georgia parents brace for the jarring transition from “summertime lazy” to “school year crazy” and our team of experts is here with tips to help make back to school smooth and less stressful for your family:
Make A Stress Plan
Deep breathing exercises and fun “brain breaks” are great ways to help your child relieve stress. It’s important to have an overall stress-reducing plan to keep future stress under control. A complete stress-reducing plan includes:
Positive meal times. Healthy foods and enjoyable meal times help kids feel better and more connected to their family. Serve plenty of veggies and fruit, choose water over sugary or caffeine-filled drinks, and enjoy a nice conversation instead of being distracted by the TV or cellphone.
Physical activity. Kids feel better and more settled when they have an opportunity to burn off some energy. Kids should get at least 60 minutes a day, but any amount helps.
Sleep. A tired kid is easily frustrated by simple, daily tasks. Rule of thumb: 6- to 12-year-olds need 9 to 12 hours/day and 13- to 18-year-olds need 8 to 10 hours/day.
A regular routine. Routines help kids feel more secure and in control. They need meals and snacks around the same time each day and a predictable bedtime routine. They also do best when they wake up at the same time each day.
Deep Breathing Exercises. Deep breathing draws in more oxygen, helping your child relax his body and mind. Try this: Choose a quiet spot to sit with your child. Have him breathe in while silently counting to three, then breathe out for three (or offer to count for him). Repeat at least three times so he gets the hang of it.
Ask your child how he feels after the deep breaths. Is he more relaxed and less worried? Work deep breathing sessions into your daily routine, like in the car on the way to school or take a few minutes after teeth brushing in the morning or at bedtime. Let him know this exercise can help him study, whether he’s at home or school. And nobody will know he’s doing it!
Fun Brain Breaks. This tip is a fun, easy way to lower stress during big study sessions. Every 30 minutes, remind your child to take a “brain break.”
Here’s one to try: Have your child listen to his three favorite songs (a perfect 10-minute break) — and get moving — while taking a break from the books. Let him choose a fun way to get his blood pumping to his favorite tune: jumping jacks, a short walk outside, even random, silly dancing!
By takng a few minutes away from studying, he’ll refresh his brain, sharpen his focus and restore his energy before it’s time to hit the books again.
School Bus Safety
About 23 million students in the U.S. take the school bus to and from school every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) school buses are the safest way to get children to and from school. But what most parents don’t know is that the greatest safety risk isn’t riding the bus but getting on and off it.
Keep the following tips in mind when preparing your child to take the school bus to school.
Getting safely to and from the bus stop
- |You or another trusted caregiver should escort young children, especially kindergartners, to and from the bus stop. Model how to stay safe by using the sidewalk and holding hands.
- Older children and teens should have a bus-stop buddy, someone they walk with to and from the bus stop.
- Children should know how to follow traffic signals and only cross streets at crosswalks.
- Drivers don’t always follow the rules of the road. Teach your children to be cautious pedestrians by waiting for cars to come to a complete stop before crossing a street.
- Children should stay three giant steps back from the curb while waiting for their bus to arrive.
Getting on and off the bus
- Most school transportation injuries occur when a child is getting on or off the bus.
- Children should stay clear of the bus’s doors when opening and closing.
- If your child drops something while getting on or off the bus, it’s she should tell the bus driver and get permission to pick the item up. This prevents her from being accidentally hit.
Staying safe on the bus
- Children should stay in their seats until the bus comes to a complete stop.
- If your child’s school bus provides seat belts, she should always wear it.
Teach your child about the danger zone
- The danger zone is the area 10 feet in front of, behind and to the sides of the bus. Visibility in these spaces is limited for both the bus driver and other drivers.
- Don’t walk behind the bus as it’s driving away.
- Drivers don’t always stop when they see bus lights flashing red or yellow. Teach your kids to use listen and watch for cars even when the buses lights are flashing.
What you can do as a driver
- Most accidents involving children pedestrians happen in the hour before and after school. Be extra cautious for children walking to and from school buses during this time.
- Follow all speed limits, especially in school zones.
- When traveling behind, beside or opposite a bus in a lane with no median must stop when the bus lights are flashing red and remain stopped until all children have reached safety.
Manage Asthma and Allergies
Food allergy reactions and asthma attacks continue to be a leading cause for concern in school aged-children in Georgia. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergic conditions than those without food allergies
Have a plan. Work with your healthcare provider to create an asthma action plan that outlines your child’s asthma triggers, medications, treatment and emergency contact information. Share with your child’s school nurse, teachers, babysitters, coaches, grandparents and anyone else that cares for your child.
Get tested for allergies. About 20 percent of students with food allergies will have a reaction while at school. Contact the Food Allergy Program to have your child tested and learn how to prevent and treat allergic reactions, especially at school. If needed, request a prescription for a new epinephrine pen and discuss whether or not your child is ready to carry his quick-relief medicine at school.
Do your homework. Before the new school year starts, contact your child’s school to get the necessary forms for your child to receive or carry his as-needed medicines while at school. Make sure your child knows how to properly use his medications.
Smart Eats for School
We’re here to help busy parents get smart for school with our expert tips about fueling up before, during and after the school day:
Bring on breakfast. Studies show that kids who start their day with a nutritionally balanced breakfast perform better in the classroom, miss fewer days of school and even experience happier moods after their morning meal. Whipping up a better breakfast doesn’t have to slow you down. With simple shortcuts, you can skip the drive-thru, save time and feel great about starting the day right.
Choose school lunches. School lunches are more convenient for mom and dad (no shopping, preparing or packing required) and often cost less than lunches prepared at home. And now, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, they are more nutritious than ever.
Power up with snacks. When meals are more than four hours apart, smart snacking is a good idea. The key to power snacking: Combine at least two food groups and always include a protein. Energy from carb-heavy snacks (granola bars, chips, pretzels) wears off in a flash, but adding protein will keep your child feeling full until the next meal.
For more information about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, visit choa.org.