Kristin Fontaine is a pediatric outreach lead at the UVM Medical Center’s office of Community Health Improvement.

Kristin Fontaine is a pediatric outreach lead at the UVM Medical Center’s office of Community Health Improvement.

Just when it feels like my family is fully in the summer groove, it’s time to start planning for the start of the new school year. Maybe it was the wet beginning (and middle!) of the summer that has made it feel shorter than usual.  Although my guess is that I feel that way every year. In my house, our usual routine has loosened up as the months of summer have gone by. Early bedtimes have crept later to fit in after dinner bike rides, a trip for creemees and picnics at the beach. Baths have been replaced by running through the sprinkler and ice cream has occasionally been labeled dinner.

Last year, with my boys starting kindergarten, we spent the summer anticipating the big change in our lives. We worked hard to get the boys ready for their new school. This year, though, it’s kind of crept up on us leaving me feeling a bit panicky about getting us all back on track and ready to start the year on a positive note.

Lucky for me, I work with Jessica Denton, a Pediatric Social Worker with the Community Health Team at the UVM Medical Center, who was able to offer some tips on a smooth transition back to school. Here are some of the ideas she came up with that could help all families:

  • Begin to transition children into their “school bedtime” routine.  This may mean bath, book and bed by 7:30p, as most school aged children need ten hours of sleep per night.
  • Review school menu and start your own menu planning for “back to school”. This includes breakfast, snacks, and lunch preparation.
  • Get your child involved in back to school “organizing” – Have them take charge of looking through last year’s supplies to see what they can reuse this year. Is their lunchbox good for another year? Do they have a list from their teacher to use? Review the list together and then decide what they can take care of on their own. Promoting the child’s involvement in the process empowers the child, providing a sense of self-worth.

Her recommendations were helpful. My goal this year is to allow my children to take on more responsibility for their lunch planning and preparation. In addition to working on an earlier bedtime over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about how they will participate in the planning, shopping and preparing of lunches for school.

Lastly, we’ll be enjoying these last weeks of summer because we know they will be over before we know it!

What helps your family get ready to go back to school? Any tips or tricks that work for you?

Kristin Fontaine, MPH, is a pediatric outreach lead with the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Improvement office, which offers programs including free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, home safety screenings, the child passenger safety seat program, health assistance program, and much more. 

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