mom and daughter outside school bus

Child Health, Family Health Lindsay Guinaugh | 6 months ago

Five Ways to Set Your Child Up for School Success

The school year is upon us. Kerry Van Voorhis, MD, of Charlotte Pediatric Clinic - SouthPark shares top tips to set your child up for school success.

Five Ways to Set Your Child Up for School Success

From homework to afterschool activities, the school year keeps kids (and Mom and Dad) busy. With so much going on, it’s a good idea to encourage your child to take up habits that will keep them healthy and successful all year long. Kerry Van Voorhis, MD, of Charlotte Pediatric Clinic - SouthPark shares top tips to set your child up for school success.

1. Get Your ZZZs

It’s true – kids need a lot of shut-eye. Dr. Van Voorhis says children between ages 5 and 10 typically need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, while older children and teens need 8.5 to 9.5.

“High-quality sleep often requires removing electronics like TVs, phones and tablets from the bedroom,” says Dr. Van Voorhis. “Maintaining a relatively consistent bedtime and wake time seven days per week is also very helpful.”

2. Fit Fuel

Though it can be tough to get out the door in the morning, don’t let your child skip breakfast. And make sure they have packable healthy meals and snacks like fresh fruit, nuts and cheese to help maintain energy and concentration throughout the day.

“Parents should check the lunchbox before the child leaves for school and when they return,” Dr. Van Voorhis says. “Ask your child what they ate at the school cafeteria on days when they buy lunch.”

And put your child to work in the kitchen! Children can help pack their lunches starting in kindergarten. Watching you pack healthy meals for yourself will encourage them to make similar choices for themselves, as well.

3. Stay Active

While regular exercise is generally touted for its physical benefits, studies reliably show it’s also associated with improved academic performance. Get your child to log 30 to 60 minutes of organized activity or free play each day. Join the kids in outdoor play time and reap the benefits!

4. Organize – Don’t Overload

Re-establish your child’s schedule and expectations for a healthy, sustainable weekly routine. “Be realistic about how many activities your child and your family can enjoy without overload,” says Dr. Van Voorhis. “Work with your child to establish protected time for homework and chores that won’t interfere with sleep.”

When it comes to an easy and efficient morning, organization is key. Select a spot to store backpacks, lunchboxes and important notes sent home from school. Teach your children to pack their lunches and select their clothes the night before.

5. Engage After School

Set a goal of taking a family walk or having a sit-down dinner at least three evenings per week. In addition to providing regular time for family communication, problem solving and encouragement, research indicates this habit is associated with lower rates of obesity, depression, substance abuse and disordered eating, according to Dr. Van Voorhis.

Try these family-friendly discussion topics:

  • Best and hardest part of the day
  • Most interesting thing you learned
  • Relationships with friends and teachers
  • How someone helped you or you helped someone else