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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 20 August 2008

Health and wellness experts from Providence Hospital and Health Centers have a few guidelines for parents and guardians getting youngsters ready for school at summer's end.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise
Staying up late and sleeping in are summertime rituals for most kids. But summer sleep habits can leave children sleep-deprived and unfocused at the start of the school year. Providence sleep experts recommend that most school-age children get at least nine hours of sleep per night. Parents should consider establishing school-year bedtime routines two weeks prior to the start of school. Creating a bedtime routine and encouraging quiet time and relaxing activities will allow for downtime and sufficient sleep time.

A Healthy Lunch
Nutrition and learning go hand in hand. Providence dieticians say kids who are nutritionally fit are more likely to have the energy, stamina and self-esteem that enhance their ability to learn. Don't forget a good breakfast, but also pack meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat, as well as healthful, safe and nutritious. For example, sandwiches, raw veggies, crackers, string cheese, whole fruit and pudding are fun foods that still supply good nutrition.

Back Backup
Backpacks are as much a necessity for school as the books they hold. And with the various books, supplies, and, of course, lunch, these backpacks can get awfully heavy. To avoid back pain, choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Make sure your child always uses both straps – slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles and may also increase curvature of the spine. Providence Rehabilitation Services recommends that a backpack weigh no more than 15 percent of the child's weight.

Get Those Immunizations
Oregon law requires shots for children in attendance at public and private schools, preschools, childcare facilities, and HeadStart programs. Most immunizations are administered before a child is two years old; however, between ages four and six – prior to entering kindergarten, children are due for booster shots. Children between 11 and 18 years of age may be due for booster shots, too. Providence family physicians are available to review what vaccines are needed at what ages.

Prepare for First-Day Jitters
Parents can set the tone for a successful transition from summer to the new classroom by proactively addressing their children's concerns. Providence behavioral health experts and family medicine physicians suggest parents start daily routines early to add continuity and to build confidence. Try a practice school bus run or take a school tour to alleviate the stress of getting lost. Selecting an outfit the night before can start the day on a calm, predictable note as well as packing books, homework and lunch money the night before to avoid the morning rush.  



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