Back to School: Pediatricians offer tips to help get kids off to a strong start

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, August 12, 2023
Pediatricians offer tips to help kids start the school year off strong
Back to school items may include a new backpack, shoes and a laptop. But some items that should be on a parent's checklist may not be as obvious.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- If you've picked up a new lunch bag and all your child's back to school supplies, does that mean they're ready for the start of school?

Other items that should be on a parent's checklist may not be as obvious.

Pediatricians say that a successful school year takes planning and follow through.

Whether your kids have had their first day of school or are still a few days away from going back to the classroom, orchestrating a smooth transition is always a challenge.

"Summer is pretty unstructured. Kids wake up later, they go to bed later. They eat what and when they want to eat, " said Children's Hospital Los Angeles pediatrician Dr. Colleen Kraft.

As a past American Academy of Pediatrics President, Kraft knows how to tackle every back to school concern.

To be prepared by the time the school bell rings, kids have to rise to their own alarm first. That means adjusting bedtimes.

"If they're used to going to bed at 10 o'clock at night, let's make it 9 o'clock tonight. Maybe in a couple of nights we can move it to 8 o'clock," Kraft said.

And after dinner, Kraft offers this tip: charge all the family's phones in a central area to ensure that everyone is off their screens one to two hours before bedtime.

Another tip: Start the day out right. Studies show kids who eat breakfast with some protein in it have better concentration and energy.

And before heading out, go over safety rules for children biking to school, walking or taking the bus.

"The child should not get on the bus until the bus is completely stopped. They shouldn't have to go to the other side of the street to get onto the bus," Kraft said.

Look for padded backpacks with a wide strap. If it drops below a child's waist, it's too heavy. Kraft suggests teens with classes on different days get two backpacks.

"Have your books for one day in one pack and have your books for the other day in the other. That decreases the weight," Kraft said.

Of course, it's natural to feel anxious about unfamiliar or new situations. Pediatricians recommend doing a dry run - take your child to their new school or classroom before the first day.

"There are lots of open houses that are planned," Kraft said. "Get them to find their desk if they have a desk assigned to them. And if any of those kids are anxious it will make them feel better about going back to school."