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Back to school tips for parents and kids

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Does your child have the back-to-school jitters? Do you?

It's understandable to be a little nervous about the first day of school, especially if you're seeing your little one off for the first time or if your child will be attending a new school. The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a checklist that can help make your child's transition to school this year a little easier on both of you.

  • Has your child received all the necessary immunizations? If you’re unsure, check with your child’s doctor.
  • Have you filled out any forms that the school has sent home, such as emergency contact and health information forms?
  • Do you know what time school starts and how your child will get there? Do you know the school's designated drop-off and pick-up area? Are there any regulations on bicycles or other vehicles, such as scooters?
  • Have you filled out any forms that the school has sent home, such as emergency contact and health information forms?
  • Do you know what time school starts and how your child will get there? Do you know the school's designated drop-off and pick-up area? Are there any regulations on bicycles or other vehicles, such as scooters?
  • Will your child buy lunch at school, bring it from home or come home for lunch? If she buys a hot lunch, how much will it cost per day or per week?
  • Does your child's school place any restrictions on what type of clothing can be worn, such as shorts or tank tops? Will your child need a change of clothes for PE or art class?
  • Does the school nurse and your child's teacher know about any medical conditions your child may have, particularly food allergies, asthma, diabetes and any other conditions that may need to be managed? Will medications be given at school?
  • Does your child's teacher know about any conditions that may affect how your child learns? For example, a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) should be seated in the front of the room with her back to the windows and a child with vision problems should sit near the board.
  • Does your child know where to go after school? If she's being picked up, does she know where to meet you or another caregiver? If you won't be there to meet her, does she know what the alternative plan is and how to get help in an emergency?
  • Have you gone over traffic-safety information, stressing the importance of crossing at the crosswalk (never between parked cars or in front of the school bus) and waiting for the school bus on the sidewalk? If your child walks or bikes to school, can you enlist a friend or classmate to accompany her?
  • Does your child understand that she is never to accept rides, candy, or any other type of invitation from anyone she doesn't know?
  • Have you selected a safe backpack for your child, and does your child know how to load and wear it properly to avoid back injuries?
  • Have you talked to your child about dealing with bullies? Although your child should be told to walk away from instead of engaging a bully, persistent bullying is not something a child should have to deal with on her own. Remind your child to bring any bullying problems to your attention, or to the attention of the teacher and the school counselor.
  • Does your child have a quiet place that's free of distractions to do homework at night? Will her after-school commitments allow her enough time to complete her assignments? Keep an eye on your child's schedule to make sure she has enough time for both her schoolwork and her home life.
  • Taking care of your child's emotional health is just as important as taking care of her physical safety. If your child is starting a new school, offer as much support as you can and remind her that everyone is nervous on their first day - even Mom and Dad and probably even the teacher. Be reassuring and optimistic if those first few days are tough for your child.
  • And finally, always send your child off to school with a nutritious breakfast. Studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast do better academically and socially than children who go to school hungry.

Have a wonderful school year!