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Back to School Bits

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Full2652.jpgfirst day of school jitters
Where on earth did summer go? It’s back-to-school time, folks! Take charge of the school year by being prepared with the following tips:

Feelings are contagious
No matter how you feel, remember that the first day of school is a milestone for your child no matter what grade he’s starting. Present a positive point of view and attitude to send him on his way with a spring in his step.

Check it out
You’ll feel better about school and your place in it if you are familiar with its environment. Check it out and get to know other parents in the Parent/Teacher Organization.

Be prepared
Discuss procedures with your kids like riding the bus or bringing home papers to make sure everyone knows what’s going on. With your youngest school-goers, practice little things like putting a straw in a juice box. Help your child learn to manage situations that may arise.

Meet the teacher(s)
Teachers are your partners but have lots of parents to work with. YOU have to be the one to make the effort at a solid relationship. That way you can understand and keep up with your child’s achievements throughout the year. Many prefer email. Find out what works best for your child’s teachers, and don’t hesitate to contact them when you need to.

Get INVOLVED
That connected feeling you wish for comes from your ability to reach out and meet others. Volunteer in your child’s classroom, for special school functions, field trips and more.

win a back-to-school set!
For back to school, outfit your kids with their favorite characters. We’ve got a Thomas and Friends back-to-school set, which includes a backpack and lunchbox. For Dora lovers, we also have a Dora the Explorer back-to-school set, which includes a Dora backpack, lunchbox and pencil set. Winners will be notified by telephone on Monday, Sept. 3 and will have two weeks to pick up their prizes at our offices located at 2270 Metrocenter Blvd., Nashville. One entry per family per prize, please. Good luck!

get a good night’s sleep
Sleep loss resulting from going to bed even one hour later than usual can have a negative impact on child’s alertness and brain function in the classroom. There are good reasons to believe that with today’s nightly temptations (TV, Internet, etc.), many children are chronically sleep-deprived. If your child has difficulty getting up in the morning, concentrating or is frequently cranky, it may be from lack of sleep. The following tips from the Better Sleep Council may help.

  • Don’t overschedule your child
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime
  • Develop a sleep ritual for your kids
  • Encourage reading before sleeping
  • Keep bedrooms dark
  • Maintain comfortable temperatures in your home

 


lunchbox make-over
We know it’s a royal nuisance to pack lunches on school days. It’s hard to be creative when you find yourself staring at the same old peanut butter jar day after day! But hold on. Research has made it perfectly clear that kids’ diets are out of control when it comes to sugars and excess snacks.

That’s why Leanne Ely, a certified nutrition consultant and author of the Saving Dinner book series says that one of the healthiest things parents can do for their children is to send them to school with a healthy lunch. Yup. That means foregoing the school-bought items and packing yourself.

Before you heave another sigh, know that by doing so, you’ll be on the right track for helping your children watch their fat intake. While kids need some amount of fat in their diets, saturated fats should be kept to a minimum. Here are five easy steps to help you start packing lunches that will reinforce healthier eating for your kids:

1) Wipe out white bread: Breads made with whole grains are better sources of fiber and keep kids fuller longer.

2) Be choosier with cheese: It’s the number one source of saturated fat in a child’s diet. Try swapping out high-fat cheese with mozzarella or other low-fat options such as soy-based Veggie Slices or Super Stix.

3) Don’t skimp on fruit: Swap sugary snacks with bananas, blueberries, pears or apples. Kids are so accustomed to packaged foods now – help them to discover whole fruits that don’t require expensive wrappings!

4) Skip the chips: Store-bought chips are loaded with fats and all-things bad for you, but most kids think they have to have them in a lunch. Substitute baked tortilla or pita chips.

5) Water or milk: The American Academy of Pediatrics says fruit juice contribues to cavities and obesity. Instead of a high-fructose corn syrup-type of juice, provide your child with water or money to buy milk.

More Great Ideas …

Ants on a Log: Celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese dotted with raisins.

Wraps: Turkey, ham or roast beef, shredded lettuce, low-fat ranch dressing and cream cheese wrapped in a wheat tortilla.

Out-of-the-box: Offer items like peanut butter and banana, honey, chocolate chips or even applesauce; Bagels with low-fat cream cheese or prepared pizza-style with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.

The change up: Not all breads are created equal. Look for tasty rolls for subs. Serve PB & J on a hot dog roll. Instead of bread, send peanut butter or cheese on crackers and accompany with fruit.

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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