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In some parts of U.S., school has already begun, and over the next several weeks, almost all children will be back in the classroom after the Labor Day holiday.
Setting up students for success at school includes parents and caregivers helping kids develop routines and good habits for time management, nutrition and sleep.
"Having routines is so important not only for our kids, but actually for our families and for us as adults, as well," explains Dr. Tina Ardon, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Florida. "And routines focusing on sleep are a huge part of how we can do well in an academic setting, but also really important for health in general for our kids. That's why kids grow. That's when brain development can happen. So focusing on a really good sleep schedule and routine is just so important for us to be prioritizing as families."
Another important step to prepare for school is to make sure that a child's vaccinations are up to date.
"With any illness, but particularly for our kids, if we want to keep them from missing school, from missing things that we can prevent, then we should take advantage of the tools we have available," says Dr. Ardon. "So vaccines are one of those great tools that we have, at helping either prevent disease or helping us not get quite as sick from disease."
In addition to routine childhood vaccinations, Dr. Ardon recommends all children age 6 months and up be vaccinated against COVID-19 and also receive a flu vaccination when it's available.
Another important part of preparing for school is dealing with the anxiety about the unfamiliar — a new environment, a new school, a different classroom. So how can parents help kids navigate the uncertainty?
"Keeping open lines of communication with your kids is so important," says Dr. Ardon. There are lots of ways for us to kind of prepare ourselves for either a new classroom or a new school. We can look online at pictures of the new school. We can take advantage of return-to-school activities where you can meet the teacher and walk around preparing your child for that first day. We can talk about what they're maybe excited about or nervous about. Is it homework? Is it new friends, old friends? Just allowing your child to have that conversation with you can alleviate a lot of that stress, as well."
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Ardon offers tips on helping kids prepare for back to school.
Related back-to-school posts:
Watch: Dr. Ardon discuss how kids and parents can prepare for back to school.
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For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.
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