Hopefully families with children are adjusting to the school schedule of getting up early and going to bed at a reasonable time to allow the body plenty of rest for the best school year yet.

Whether this is their first year or 12th year, starting school can cause some anxiety. A child’s education is greatly influenced by a parent’s feelings and attitudes about school. It is important for parents to be positive and have a good attitude toward school in order to help their child succeed.

For pre-K and kindergarten students, this is a major milestone for them and their parents. School is a place where a child will learn about how the world works, as well as about his or her own strengths, weaknesses and interests. For some children it will be their first experience away from home and their parents. Other children may feel some anxiety because they are attending a new school or school building.

Get your kids up early enough to allow time for a healthy breakfast. What is a healthy breakfast? Try to encourage a dairy source, at least an 8-ounce serving whether it is milk to drink, on cereal or eating yogurt. Next, encourage a whole grain. The USDA food guide encourages us to make half our daily grains, whole grains. Be sure to check the nutrition label to see if the cereal or bread is whole wheat, etc.

To complete the meal, include a serving of fresh fruit, if possible choose a fruit high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, cantaloupe, or a banana. Drinking a glass of water along with the food will maintain hydration for the start of the school day. Studies have shown that students who start the day with a nutritious breakfast make better grades, are better able to concentrate and make fewer mistakes than non-breakfast eaters. If the mornings are rushed, the child may be able to eat breakfast at school. Most schools offer excellent breakfast programs either in the cafeteria or in the classroom.

Once the day is over, establish an afternoon/evening routine. Set a regular time to work on any homework or school projects. Set aside some time to review the child’s school papers. Parents can show support and enthusiasm by displaying artwork and other papers on the refrigerator, wall or even taking them to work. Talk to your children about what he or she learned at school that day. School work, practicing an instrument and sports practice will take precedence over watching television or playing electronic games. Make time for a family meal in the evening.

Also, it is very important for children to get an adequate amount of sleep. Younger school age children need from 10-11 hours of sleep each night. Establishing a bedtime routine will be more relaxing for everyone. This may include taking a shower or bath, reading a book, listening to soft music, or just sharing with a parent. This helps to provide some calm moments that relax the brain and body for a restful night of sleep. This quiet time gives a child a feeling of security and provides a parent with a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is going on in the child’s life.

For more information, or to schedule a program locally about financial management, nutrition, health and wellness, parenting education, or Oklahoma Home and Community Education, contact the OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County by phone at 918-456-6163.

Heather Winn is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.

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