Ask the Pediatrician

Calabasas Pediatrics Tips for School Success

Health and school success should be at the top of every parent’s mind. Lifestyle choices, including nutrition and sleep, play a major role in school performance. To ensure your kids are on track for a healthy, happy, and successful school year, we’d like to share our best back-to-school tips with you.

Seven Ss for School Success

During the summer, kids stay up later—whether running around the neighborhood or playing video games—and it’s now time to start moving that bedtime up by 15 minutes every few days until you reach an appropriate school-night bedtime. Kids need at least 10 hours of sleep—teens too! Three days before school starts, set an alarm, wake your kids up lovingly, and practice your morning routine. With a few days of practice, the first morning of school should run smoothly.

Summertime often means more screen time. Sit down as a family now and discuss school-day media use and screentime rules. That may mean a limit of one to two hours per night (official American Academy of Pediatrics maximum recommendation) or no screens at all on school nights. Make sure you have screen-free zones in your home, such as the kitchen table and the beds. Set an electronic curfew, meaning that an hour before bedtime all screens get turned off and charged out of the bedroom so as not to interfere with sleep.

When school is out, kids often eat more “fun” foods, but on school days, healthy, protein-rich meals are critically important to help kids concentrate and stay energized longer. Try to decrease or eliminate sugar in the morning and feed your kids a healthy, protein-rich breakfast to start the day off right. Good options are eggs, dairy products, nut butters, and whole-grain bread. Pack healthy snacks and a refillable water bottle with plain water for the school day.

Every child needs to be up to date on vaccines; it’s a California state law. Touch base with your pediatrician and get your child checked out from head to toe, brain and mental health included. Your kids can’t learn if they aren’t healthy, focused, and mentally prepared.

Be sure to pick a backpack with padded straps that isn’t going to be too heavy (not more than a ¼ of your child’s body weight). Some students prefer rolling backpacks. Just keep in mind that these can be difficult to fit in lockers and carry upstairs.

Your kids need a clean, quiet, and organized space to do their homework and study. Whether it’s a bedroom desk or the kitchen table, keeping it clutter-free and without distractions will help your kids stay focused and engaged in their work.

Beginning the school year can be a stressful time for everyone. Talk to your kids about any concerns they may have and discuss the school-day routine. Re-introduce them to old friends and encourage them to make new friends too. A few days before school starts, go to the school and get a “lay of the land” so that your children feel more comfortable on the first day.

If your family needs help with any of these tips or health or wellness issues, let us know. At Calabasas Pediatrics Wellness Center, we specialize in helping all kids and teens be healthy, well-adjusted, and successful students.

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