Missing a backpack and running late? Stay healthy and ease back-to-school stress with AHN Pediatrics.

“I already miss summer. With school days and new schedules approaching, how can I make the transition easier?”

It can be rough to switch from lazy summers to school-day routines — for parents and kids alike. But there are ways that you can plan ahead to make it easier.

“Many parents struggle to get their kids to sleep earlier, especially when the sun’s still out,” said Brian Donnelly, MD, of AHN Pediatrics. “Have a relaxed, calming bedtime routine, without electronic devices. I recommend a dark, quiet room. Start the new routine a few days before, if possible, so it’s in place before school begins.”

He suggested you check with your children’s pediatrician to update their vaccines, particularly if you missed any annual visits. “If they haven’t been into the office lately, we’ll also look at growth and any excessive weight gain. Many children got less exercise when sports were curtailed,” he said.

Get any school health forms to your pediatrician early, so the school nurse has all medication, instructions, and information on health conditions, he added. And, of course, children should never carry their own medications to school.

Health problems at school

“If your children were cyber-schooled and haven’t been in a classroom for a while, it may take an adjustment,” Dr. Donnelly said. “If there are attention deficit issues, we usually hear about them during the first few weeks of school.”

Find out your school’s mask policies and respond as needed. “I hope kids keep remembering to wash their hands. And stay home when they are sick, to help contain the spread of colds and flu,” Dr. Donnelly said.

As the year goes on:

  • Remind children they can see the school nurse if they don’t feel well.
  • Arrange for them to take short-term medications on a schedule that avoids school hours.
  • Determine if any persistent headaches or tummy aches are tied to something else, like learning issues, bullying, or skipping breakfast.

“And remember to strap backpacks over both arms, not one shoulder,” Dr. Donnelly added. “So you just get strong back muscles and no neck or back strain.”

Photo via AHN Pediatrics.

Have a dress rehearsal

In August, take a few days with your children to focus on age-appropriate preparations for school.

  • Shop for school supplies, including a day planner to keep track of assignments.
  • Set up a study area in a quiet room, with a desk, good lighting, pens, and paper.
  • Double-check that they have the Wi-Fi and internet connections needed to submit homework.
  • Assign storage bins to organize books, assignments, forms, and anything going to school.
  • Agree when they’ll do homework, right after school or after dinner, without video or cellphones.
  • Run through a typical school morning to decide how much time they need to shower, dress, eat breakfast, and run to the bus.
  • Set up your own folder — digitally or physically — to track forms and emails from instructors.
  • Consider a shared family calendar — on the wall or online — to track all school and recreational activities, including who is driving and who is cheering from the sidelines. Let your kids add magnets, stickers, or emojis.

“When you all get home, discuss any needs for the next day. Look for permission slips, dirty uniforms, and requests for party treats,” said Dr. Donnelly. “The goal is to avoid surprises when you are all rushing out the door in the morning.”

Every child is different, so talk to your pediatrician about any concerns, or contact AHN Pediatrics.

This article is a paid content partnership with Allegheny Health Network.