Back-to-school tips to get in the groove

It’s been a great summer, but it’s time to get everyone back in the groove of classes, sports practice — and getting up early again. Here are some tips to help your kids make a healthy transition back to school.

Get bedtimes back on track

Studies have shown a correlation between hours of sleep and students’ ability to focus in school. Pediatrician Susanna Block, MD, from Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center says that the best way to get your children on a school sleep schedule after the summer is to start gradually and create a routine.

“Successfully getting back on a school sleep schedule means resetting kids’ expectations for bedtime,” says Dr. Block. “Set a firm bedtime and reestablish that bedtime routine.”

Children 7 to 12 years old need 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Preteens and teens need 8 to 9 hours.

Read Dr. Block’s strategies for getting kids back on a regular sleep schedule.

Tricks and tips for nutritious school lunches

Packing school lunches can feel like drudgery, and school restrictions on foods like nuts can make it seem more difficult, but it is possible to pack lunches that are easy, nutritious, and fun. Registered dietitian Lauren Stark from Kaiser Permanente’s Capitol Hill Medical Center says that sticking with the basics can help.

“Start with protein,” says Stark. “Think about plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, or seeds to mix up the routine of always having deli meat. Protein will provide longer lasting energy throughout the day.”

“Prohibitions on nuts and peanut butter have created many great alternatives,” says Stark. “Try sunflower butter on celery or pack a sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich for a high-protein meal.” Stark also recommends packing in the fruits and vegetables.

Don’t forget the beverages! “Milk is a favorite for most but if it’s not, encourage water instead of sugar-filled sodas and juices,” says Stark.

See our full list of lunchbox Superfoods for inspiration.

Keep kids healthy with a variety of sports

Fall sports tryouts are in full swing and fall sports practices are beginning. With more pressure on student athletes to perform at younger ages, some children are specializing in one sport, year-round, with the aim of improving performance. Sports medicine physician Jordan Chun, MD, from Kaiser Permanente Renton Medical Center says that the best way to build to success and avoid injury is to try many sports and “let the fun win.”

“We know from studies that when kids play multiple different sports, it develops different parts of their bodies and minds, building all-around strength and reducing injury,” says Dr. Chun.

“Youth sports are a chance to learn about teamwork, goal setting, and self-esteem,” says Dr. Chun. “The best approach is to focus on learning lifelong skills and having fun.”

Parents with concerns or questions about their child’s sports participation can talk with their care provider for advice.

These tips will help your children form healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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