State Schools Superintendant Jack O’Connell Offers His Top 10 Back-To-School Tips
- In the days leading up to the start of school, put your children to bed a little earlier each night until they get used to the regular wake-up time to go to school. A well-rested and alert student learns better in school. Doctors say elementary and middle school aged students typically need 10 to 12 hours of sleep, while high school students need between eight and nine hours.
- Make sure children eat a hearty breakfast of whole grain toast or cereal, fruit, and low-fat milk, instead of a sugar-filled breakfast. Hungry children do not learn as well as well-nourished ones, and sugar may make them hyperactive and cause them to actually eat more food at lunchtime. Schools usually serve well-balanced meals to children if you don’t have time to pack them a nutritious lunch. Low-income families can also sign their children up for the free and reduced-price meal program. For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/.
- Keep up throughout the school year all the fun physical activities, like biking and jogging, your family did during the summer. Studies show that students who are physically active have a better ability to learn and achieve, and have better classroom behavior. For more information on student health, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/.
- Teach your children how to prevent the spread of H1N1 and other influenza viruses. Keeping children healthy and ready to learn will prevent school dismissals due to a flu outbreak. Tell your children to wash their hands frequently with soap and water when possible, and always cover their noses and mouths with a tissue, shirt sleeve, or elbow when coughing or sneezing. For more information on preventing the spread of the flu, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/h1n1flu.asp.
- Pack a flu prevention kit. The kit should contain tissues for coughing and sneezing, and individual packets of disposable wipes. For home, your kit should include a thermometer, decongestants, antibacterial soap, and fever reducing medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but not aspirin. Remember, do not pack medications in your child’s flu prevention kit because they may be barred by your school’s drug prevention policies.
- While you are packing your children’s flu prevention kits, throw in an extra package of tissues, pencils, pens, and notebooks and donate them to teachers. Many teachers buy supplies with their own money for students in their classes. To make bigger donations, please visit http://www.donorschoose.org.
- Create a comfortable, quiet, well-lit place in your home specifically for your children to concentrate on their homework or reading. Plan a consistent time for homework every day. This will help your children concentrate and absorb more of what they are trying to learn. Make note of any studying difficulties that may be caused by poor eyesight and may be solved with eyeglasses.
- Limit your children’s use of mobile devices, TV, radio, and the computer. Turn them off while your children are studying. When they do watch TV, choose programs that are interesting and educational, such as “The Electric Company” or “Sesame Street” on your local PBS stations. These programs are also online and offer activity and educational resources for children. For more information, please visit http://www.sesamestreet.org/home orhttp://pbskids.org/electriccompany/.
- In these tough economic times, school budgets have been cut and some parents are out of work. To make the best of these difficult situations, consider volunteering at school or starting a booster club if you can. People can actually gain valuable work experience from these activities that can be used to get a job. Plus, the school and students benefit from parents who are actively engaged in their children’s education.
- Have high expectations for your children. Expect your children to do their very best each day. Hold them accountable for doing homework and working hard to achieve in school. When you expect your children to achieve at high levels they will rise to the challenge. If they believe they can achieve, they will achieve and nothing will make them, or you, more proud.
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