The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Making the First Day Easier
- Parents should remember that they need not wait until the first day of class to ask for help. Schools are open to address any concerns a parent or child might have, including the specific needs of a child, over the summer. The best time to get help might be one to two weeks before school opens.
- Many children become nervous about new situations, including changing to a new school, classroom or teacher. This may occur at any age. If your child seems nervous, it can be helpful to rehearse entry into the new situation. Take them to visit the new school or classroom before the first day of school. Remind them that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. If your child seems nervous, ask them what they are worried about and help them problem solve ways to master the new situation.
- Point out the positive aspects of starting school to create positive anticipation about the first day of class. They will see old friends and meet new ones. Talk with them about positive experiences they may have had in the past at school or with other groups of children.
- Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride on the bus.
- If it is a new school for your child, attend any available orientations and take an opportunity to tour the school before the first day. Bring the child to school a few days prior to class to play on the playground and get comfortable in the new environment.
- If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day, and get there early on the first day to cut down on unnecessary stress.
- Make sure to touch base with your child’s new teacher at the beginning or end of the day so the teacher knows how much you want to be supportive of your child’s school experience.
- Consider starting your child on their school sleep/wake schedule a week or so ahead of time so that time change is not a factor on their first couple of days at school.
- Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light.
- Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
- Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist.
- If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs, they may be difficult to roll in snow, and they may not fit in some lockers. And review backpack safety with your child.
Traveling to & from School
Review the basic rules with your student and practice any new routes or modes of transportation:
- Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
- Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
- Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
- Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required. Encourage your child to practice how to cross the street several times prior to the first day of school.
- Your child should not move around on the bus.
- If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child’s school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).
- Check on the school’s policy regarding food on the bus. Eating on the bus can present a problem for students with allergy and also lead to infestations of insects and vermin on the vehicles.
- If your child has a chronic condition that could result in an emergency on the bus, make sure you work with the school nurse or other school health personnel to have a bus emergency plan, if possibly, prior to the first day of class.
Our sharing of this article is to hopefully take a little stress from both the parent and the child as they enter the new school year. Here at ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing, we worry about our children also; their safety both at school and on the way there and home again. With a little help and mindfulness, we’ll all make it through.
Our last “tip” to make things easier this School Season is to remind you to schedule your homework now. We don’t mean studies but the homework we’ll put into your Annual Heater tune up. The time is right to call ServiceMark and schedule this service at the day and time that suits you best – perhaps when the kids are in school and you have an hour to spare!
Again, our thanks to HealthyChildren.org for their timely input and great ideas.