Making the first day easier
Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
• Point out the positive aspects of starting
school. She’ll see old friends and meet new
ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous
years, when she may have returned home
after the first day with high spirits because she
had a good time.
• Find another child in the neighborhood with
whom your student can walk to school or ride on
• If it is a new school for your child, attend any
available orientations and take an opportunity to
tour the school before the first day.
• If you feel it is needed, drive your child (or
walk with her) to school and pick her up on the
• Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder
straps and a padded back.
• Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of
its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to
the center of the back. The backpack should
never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your
child’s body weight.
• Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a
backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
• If your school allows, consider a rolling backpack.
This type of backpack may be a good
choice for students who must tote a heavy load.
Remember that rolling backpacks still must be
carried up stairs, they may be difficult to roll in
snow, and they may not fit in some lockers.
TRAVELING TO AND FROM
Review the basic rules with your student:
• Children should always board and exit the bus
at locations that provide safe access to the bus or
to the school building.
• Remind your child to wait for the bus to
stop before approaching it from the curb.
• Make sure your child walks where she can
see the bus driver (which means the driver
will be able to see her, too).
• Remind your student to look both ways to
see that no other traffic is coming before
crossing the street, just in case traffic does
not stop as required.
• Your child should not move around on the
• If your child’s school bus has lap/shoulder
seat belts, make sure your child uses one at
all times when in the bus. (If your child’s
school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage
the school system to buy or lease buses
with lap/shoulder belts.}
• All passengers should wear a seat belt and/or
an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or
• Your child should ride in a car safety seat with
a harness as long as possible and then ride in a
belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready
for a booster seat when she has reached the top
weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders
are above the top harness slots, or her ears
have reached the top of the seat.
• Your child should ride in a belt-positioning
booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly
(usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″
in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
This means that the child is tall enough to sit
against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at
the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder
belt lies across the middle of the chest and
shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is
low and snug across the thighs, and not the stomach.
• All children younger than 13 years of age
should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you
must drive more children than can fit in the rear
seat (when carpooling, for example), move the
front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible
and have the child ride in a booster seat if the
seat belts do not fit properly without it.
• Remember that many crashes occur while
novice teen drivers are going to and from school.
You should require seat belt use, limit the number
of teen passengers, and do not allow eating,
drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or
other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction.
Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement
weather. Familiarize yourself with your
state’s graduated driver’s license law and consider
the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to
facilitate the early driving learning process. For a
sample parent-teen driver agreement, see
• Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how
short or long the ride.
• Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto
• Use appropriate hand signals.
• Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
• Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.
White or light-colored clothing and reflective
gear is especially important after dark.
• Know the “rules of the road.”
WALKING TO SCHOOL
• Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe
route with well-trained adult crossing guards at
• Identify other children in the neighborhood
with whom your child can walk to school. In
neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider
organizing a “walking school bus,” in
which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood
children walking to school.
• Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills.
Because small children are impulsive and less
cautious around traffic, carefully consider
whether or not your child is ready to walk to
school without adult supervision.
• If your children are young or are walking to a
new school, walk with them the first week or
until you are sure they know the route and can do
• Bright-colored clothing will make your child
more visible to drivers.
EATING DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
• Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria
menus home and/or have them posted on
the school’s website. With this advance information,
you can plan on packing lunch on the days
when the main course is one your child prefers
not to eat.
• Look into what is offered in school vending
machines. Vending machines should stock
healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy
products, water and 100 percent fruit juice.
Learn about your child’s school wellness policy
and get involved in school groups to put it into
• Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately
10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories.
Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a
child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Choose healthier
options to send in your child’s lunch.
Bullying or cyberbullying is when one
child picks on another child repeatedly.
Bullying can be physical, verbal,
or social. It can happen at school, on
the playground, on the school bus, in
the neighborhood, over the Internet,
or through mobile devices like cell
When Your Child Is
• Help your child learn how to respond by teaching
your child how to: 1. Look the bully in the
eye. 2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
3. Walk away.
• Teach your child how to say in a firm voice. 1.
“I don’t like what you are doing.” 2. “Please do
NOT talk to me like that.” 3. “Why would you
• Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted
adult for help.
• Encourage your child to make friends with
• Support activities that interest your child.
• Alert school officials to the problems and work
with them on solutions.
• Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying
can watch out for your child’s safety and
well-being when you cannot be there.
• Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions
so you can identify problems before
they get out of hand.
When Your Child Is the Bully
• Be sure your child knows that bullying is never
• Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s
• Be a positive role mode. Show children they
can get what they want without teasing, threatening
or hurting someone.
• Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as
loss of privileges.
• Develop practical solutions with the school
principal, teachers, counselors, and parents of the
children your child has bullied.
When Your Child Is a Bystander
• Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly
• Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult
about the bullying.
• Help your child support other children who
may be bullied. Encourage your child to include
these children in activities.
• Encourage your child to join with others in
telling bullies to stop.
BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL
• During early and middle childhood, youngsters
need supervision. A responsible adult should be
available to get them ready and off to school in
the morning and supervise them after school
until you return home from work.
• If a family member will care for your child,
communicate the need to follow consistent rules
set by the parent regarding discipline and homework.
• Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-
year-olds) should not come home to an empty
house in the afternoon unless they show unusual
maturity for their age.
• If alternate adult supervision is not available,
parents should make special efforts to supervise
their children from a distance. Children should
have a set time when they are expected to arrive
at home and should check in with a neighbor or
with a parent by telephone.
• If you choose a commercial after-school program,
inquire about the training of the staff.
There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and
the rooms and the playground should be safe.
DEVELOPING GOOD HOMEWORK
AND STUDY HABITS
• Create an environment that is conducive to
doing homework. Children need a consistent
work space in their bedroom or another part of
the home that is quiet, without distractions, and
• Schedule ample time for homework.
• Establish a household rule that the TV and
other electronic distractions stay off during
• Supervise computer and Internet use.
• Be available to answer questions and offer assistance,
but never do a child’s homework for
• Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck
fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may
be helpful to close the books for a few minutes,
stretch, and take a break periodically when it will
not be too disruptive.
• If your child is struggling with a particular subject,
and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a
tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with
your child’s teacher first.
• Some children need help organizing their
homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision
can help overcome homework problems.
• If your child is having difficulty focusing on or
completing homework, discuss this with your
child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care
Source:The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)© 2014