Ask the Pediatrician: Sept/Oct 2019


Now that summer has come to an end and kids are back in school, health and school success should be atop every family’s mind. Lifestyle choices, including nutrition and sleep, always play a major role in how your kids perform during the year. 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.

Calabasas Pediatrics Seven Ss for School Success

  1. SLEEP
    During the summer, kids stay up late. Whether they are running around the neighborhood or staying up watching TV or YouTube, it’s time to start moving that bedtime back a little bit earlier. To achieve an appropriate school year bedtime, pull it back 15 minutes every few days. Your kids need at least 10 hours of sleep—and that goes for teenagers too. Three days before school starts, set the morning alarm, wake your kids up lovingly, and practice that morning routine. With a few days of practice, the first morning of school will run smoothly for everyone.

    During the summer months, you may have been a little more lenient on screen time— enjoying movies, binge watching Netflix, or playing video games, but now is the time to sit down as a family and decide what your media-use and screen-time rules are going to be for the school year. For some that may mean no screen time on school nights. For other families, the limit may be one to two hours per night, which is the official American Academy of Pediatrics maximum recommendation for recreational screen time in a day. You also want to make sure you have screen-free zones in your house, such as the kitchen table, so you can spend time talking to your children. The most important rules to follow are: no screens in the bedroom and turn them all off an hour before bedtime. Also, charge them out of the bedroom because screens can really interfere with much-needed sleep.

    During the summer, kids often eat more sugary, “fun” foods. But on school days, healthy, protein-rich meals are really important to help kids focus, concentrate, and stay energized longer. The most important meal of the day is breakfast. So, 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 and dairy products or nut butters on whole-grain bread. Pack healthy snacks and plain water so your kids get used to drinking water throughout the day. This is especially important as the heat in Southern California lasts through the fall.

  4. SHOTS
    Every child needs to be up to date on vaccines; it’s a California state law. Many parents are emailing us to get those vaccine records and schedule physical exams. Be sure to check with your own pediatrician to ensure that all of your children’s vaccines are up to date. If you haven’t touched base with your doctor on your child’s health in a while, it’s a great time to have her or his annual physical exam to get a head-to-toe checkup, brain and mental health included. Kids won’t learn if they aren’t focused and mentally prepared.

    Be sure to pick a backpack that isn’t going to be too heavy. The rule of thumb is that children’s backpacks should not weigh more than a ¼ of their body weight. You also want to make sure that backpacks have padded straps and really encourage your kids to wear their backpacks using both straps. Some people even prefer the rolling backpacks, but keep in mind that these can be difficult to fit in lockers and heavy to carry up stairs.

    Your kids need a clean, quiet, and organized space to do homework and study. Whether it’s a desk in the bedroom or the kitchen table, keeping it clutter free and making sure there are no distractions in sight will go a long way towards keeping kids focused and engaged in their work.

    Beginning a new school year can be a stressful time for both children and parents. Talk to your kids about any concerns they may have and run through the school-day routine. Re-introduce them to old friends they may not have seen over the summer and encourage them to make new friends too. A few days before school starts, go to the school together and walk around to get a “lay of the land” so that your children feel more comfortable on that first day back.

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.

cal ped wellness

Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP
Tiffany Fischman, MD FAAP
23586 Calabasas Rd., #107, Calabasas
818.914.4429 |