Ask an expert - Jessica Schultz, elementary school teacher
Last updated 8/15/2019 at 12:08am | View PDF
How should families ready for the start of school?
With just one week left before the first day of the new school year, many children might be tempted to cram as much summer as possible into their final days of vacation.
But Jessica Schultz, a teacher on special assignment with Hinsdale Elementary District 181, suggests easing in with a few simple but important changes in the week before classes begin
For most kids, the first thing on the back-to-school to-do list should be an earlier bedtime. Schultz suggests moving bedtime up by 10 or 15 minutes each night in the days or weeks before the start of the new year, and be sure to cut out all electronics a couple of hours prior to lights out.
"Spend some time doing something calming," Schultz suggests.
A great way to wind down for bedtime is by reading one of the books on District 181's suggested summer reading list. Schultz said the list, which went home with students last spring, contains fun, lighthearted reads that will set the tone for a good night's sleep.
"The beginning of the year can be a really exciting time for students," said Schultz, who spent 10 years as a third-grade teacher before taking on her current assignment. But while some are eager to discover their new classroom and meet their new teacher, such changes can cause anxiety in others.
Parents should watch for signs that their child might be stressed about going back to school, such as resistance to bedtime or suggestions that they aren't excited, and give them a chance to share their worries.
Earlier bedtimes can be hard to adjust to, but earlier mornings are even harder. Schultz suggests preparing the night before by deciding what children will wear and what they will eat for breakfast the next day.
"That makes the routine a little smoother in the morning," she said.
As for breakfast, she encourages students to enjoy a healthy breakfast that's high in protein and low in sugar.
"You want to avoid that mid-morning sugar crash," she said.
The same goes for lunch. When packing a lunch, include fruits, vegetables and a sandwich that contains some sort of protein. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks, Schultz said.
School might mark the unofficial end of summer, but Mother Nature doesn't always follow the school calendar. Schultz encourages students to stay hydrated in the late-summer heat by packing a water bottle along with their school supplies.
Finally, if your middle school student hasn't completed the required summer math homework, now is the time. Schultz said teachers will be collecting summer math packets during the first week of school. They can be found on Skyward.
Optional math packets also are available for younger students who might want to brush up on their skills before returning to class.
Children who aren't happy about the return of early bedtimes and waking up to an alarm clock might find solace in knowing that they're not the only ones getting used to a new routine.
"I do give the same advice to teachers," Schultz said.