following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
MAKING THE FIRST DAY EASIER
- Remind your child that
she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school.
Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make
sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
- Point out the positive
aspects of starting school: It will be fun. She'll see old friends and meet
new ones. Refresh her memory 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 youngster can walk to school or ride with on
- If you feel it is
appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on
the first day.
- 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 the student's body weight.
- Always use both
shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
Wearing a backpack on one shoulder may also increase curvature of the spine.
- 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, and they may be difficult to roll in snow.
TO AND FROM SCHOOL
Review the basic rules with your youngster:
- Wait for the bus to
stop before approaching it from the curb.
- Do not move around on
- Check to see that no
other traffic is coming before crossing.
- Make sure to always
remain in clear view of the bus driver.
- 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 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, not the stomach; and the child is tall enough to sit
against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging
- All children under 13
years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- Remember that many
crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You may
want to limit the number of teen passengers to prevent driver distraction. Do
not allow your teen to drive while eating, drinking, or talking on a cell
- Always wear a bicycle
helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in
the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand
- Respect traffic lights
and stop signs.
- Wear bright color
clothing to increase visibility.
- Know the "rules of the
- Make sure your child's
walk to a school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- Try to get your child's
school to stock healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products,
water and 100 percent fruit juice in the vending machines.
- 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%.
Restrict your child's soft drink consumption.
Bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Usually
children being bullied are either weaker or smaller, shy, and generally feel
helpless. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school,
on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, or over the Internet.
Child Is Bullied
- 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 say that?"
- Teach your child when
and how to ask for help.
- Encourage your child to
make friends with other children.
- 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.
Child Is the Bully
- Be sure your child
knows that bullying is never OK.
- Set firm and consistent
limits on your child's aggressive behavior.
- 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.
Child Is a Bystander
- Tell your child not to
cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
- 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.
AFTER SCHOOL CHILD CARE
- During middle
childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be
available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over
them after school until you return home from work.
- 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.
GOOD HOMEWORK AND STUDY HABITS
- Create an environment
that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in
their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy.
- Set aside ample time
- Establish a household
rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
- Be available to answer
questions and offer assistance, but never do a child's homework for her.
- To help alleviate eye
fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying, it's recommended that
youngsters close the books for 10 minutes every hour and go do something else.
- 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
© 2006 -
American Academy of Pediatrics
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