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Dr. Mom: Time to get children ready for another school year

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1D

Can someone please tell me where summer went?

In just a short couple of weeks, we'll be back to school. Back to the daily homework grind and back to a whirlwind of weekly activities.

Usually by this point in summer, I'm clamoring for school to start. The kids have typically grown incredibly weary of each other and a little structure is a welcome reprieve.

But, is it just me, or did this summer fly by? Weekend getaways and bending the bedtime rules will soon be a lovely memory of the summer that was.

In anticipation of packing lunches, setting out backpacks and shopping for back-to-school supplies, it helps to have a game plan.

So, here are my top five tips for preparing your children (and yourself) for back to school.

Back to school checkups

Don't wait until the last minute for your children's yearly physical. Make sure they're up to date on immunizations. Schools want that paperwork at the beginning of the year. Sports physicals are a great way for adolescents and teens to discuss any issues with their pediatrician, too. Whooping cough boosters and the meningitis vaccine are two important immunizations to ensure that your teen has received.

Get bedtime on track

Admittedly, I've been pretty lax on bedtime during the summer. It seems to come naturally with the longer days and impromptu visits to the park after dinner. However, the time to get back on track is now. Start moving your children's bedtime up by 10 minutes each night until they're back to their regular bedtime. Remember that school-age children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, and teens should clock around nine hours per night.

Believe me, they're going to need their sleep. Being back in the classroom, on the playground and on the soccer field will quickly take its toll.

Sleep is your child's best defense against meltdowns and whining.

Have basics ready to go

Get those backpacks dusted off and lunchboxes ready to go. Check your school's website to see if its supply wish list is available and avoid the trip to the store the night before. Include your kids in the lunchbox shopping. Ask them to help you pick out fruit and veggies to pack in their lunches. Get out that Sharpie and start labeling their gear.

Dust off the cobwebs

Oh, how I had such great intentions: to read, do some math pages and generally keep my kids' brains from doing the typical summer slide. But summer happened and now we're here. Don't worry; it's never too late. Dust off those workbooks and have your child do one page of math per day. Get the reading into high gear by spending an afternoon at the library. And, if your school's website has an activity page for children, hop on and let your children play some fun learning games.

Rein in the schedule

Set some time aside and get your kids' weekly schedule squared away. From homework to after-school activities, remember to schedule some down time.

If possible, make eating together a priority. Whether it's breakfast or dinner, the weeks go by so fast. Family meals are a great way to stay connected.

Above all, truly relish these last days of summer. Soon enough, the morning rush will reign once again.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Dr. Melissa Arca



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