West Lafayette, Indiana - The back-to-school “to do” list can get rather lengthy for parents and children as the start of the school year fast approaches.
There’s school supply shopping, registering for classes and squeezing some final moments of fun out of summer and more. Here are some last-minute tips for parents to make the transition easy for them and their children. The tips are provided by Meg Sorg, a certified nurse practitioner, and Libby Richards, an assistant professor of nursing, both at Purdue University.
- Establishing new routines: “Parents should work now to normalize as much as possible,” says Meg Sorg, a clinical assistant professor who specializes in pediatric nursing at Purdue University’s School of Nursing. Check with schools or day cares to see if transitional items such as a stuffed animal are allowed for younger children.
“Separation anxiety is a big issue for kids who have been with their parents, friends and family all summer,” she said.
- The importance of vaccinations: With measles and other preventable diseases coming back, Richards encourages all parents to check with their health care provider, health department or school system on getting updated vaccinations.
“It’s important to follow all the guidelines of vaccinations. Some states require different vaccinations, and now some colleges and universities are asking for additional vaccinations,” she said.
Common vaccinations include influenza, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), TDap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis whooping cough), meningitis and HPV (human papillomavirus).
In addition to vaccinations, Richards recommends one simple action: “Washing hands is still the easiest way to protect oneself.”
- Limitations on events and electronic devices: Parents should limit extracurricular activities and encourage children to focus on the activities that they are good at or are continually interested in participating.
Cell phones, tablets and computers should also have limitations as well. “Parents need to be aware of what they are watching and doing on their devices,” Richards said. “You shouldn’t have computers or TVs in the bedroom. At the end of the day, you should put all of the devices in a central location.”
- Food: Children can be picky with food, but there are numerous ways to encourage healthy and quick eating, Richards said.
Parents should always have fruits and vegetables that the children eat prepared, washed and ready to go. Pre-made sandwiches for afterschool snacks or for in-between activities are a great way to stay out of fast-food drive-throughs. “Family meals are a great way to stay connected,” she said.
Get some sleep: Sorg also encourages good sleep, which involves shutting off electronic devices, keeping weekday and weekend routines consistent and potentially installing black-out curtains to keep the room dark. “Kids need about 10 hours of sleep a day, which is more sleep than people realize,” Sorg said.