MILWAUKEE — Even though it’s still summer, school is just around the corner. Experts with "Mission Healthy Kids" recommend keeping healthy habits in place to make the transition to the new school year easier for kids.
The organization, in partnership with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, shared some tips with us to help start the new school year on the right foot.
It’s easy to get off track on sleep in the summertime, but having a regular sleep schedule is important for kids’ health, especially as they ease back into the school year.
- Being well-rested is strongly connected to the ability to learn and retain information.
- Children ages 6 to 11 should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night, while teens should get at least nine.
- As summer comes to an end, establish a reasonable bedtime and start working toward it. In the week leading up to the first day of school, try moving bedtime up 10-15 minutes a night to help ease your child into the new routine.
- Create a sleep environment that is dark, quiet and comfortable.
- It’s best to avoid any strenuous activity or screen time for at least an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid sugary cereals or processed breakfast bars. Instead, choose nutritionally dense foods such as eggs, whole grain breads or cereals, nut butters, fresh fruit and full fat milk and yogurt to fuel your child’s body and help them feel full longer.
- Engage your kids in meal planning and make a list of some healthy lunch and snack ideas.
The idea of going back to school is not always met with cheers, so emphasize all of the positive and exciting things a new classroom or school can bring.
- Talk to your kids about how they are feeling about the new school year. Be aware of any worries or anxieties your kids might be feeling.
- Let them know that starting new things is exciting, but it’s OK to be a little anxious about it, too.
- Talk in advance about grades, homework, reading time, etc., so kids will know what is expected of them and what their daily routine might look like.
- Discuss some of the positives a new school year brings for kids, such as seeing friends and making new ones.
- Learning new subjects or taking new classes
- Joining school sports teams or clubs
- Get organized: Staying organized will help reduce stress and make things go as smoothly as possible for kids and parents.
- Organize and pack your child’s backpack and lay out clothing each night (or have them do it, depending on their age) to help keep mornings as stress-free as possible and ensure important things aren’t forgotten.
For more information, visit the Mission Healthy Kids website.