Back to School Tips



With the first day of school right around the corner, we wanted to share these great back to school tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

How to make the first day easier:

  • If your child is nervous, remind him or her that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school, no matter their age.  Teachers know that students are nervous, and make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Is there another child in the neighborhood that goes to the school?  See if your student can walk to school with them or ride on the bus together.
  • If it’s a new school for your family, attend any available orientations.  Some schools offer tours before the first day so students know how to get around.
  • If you feel that it’s needed, drive or walk your child to school and pick him/her up on the first day


  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.  This is the most comfortable kind, usually.
  • Pack it light – the backpack should never weight more than 10%-20% of your child’s body weight.  Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back, and organize by using all of the compartments.
  • Always use both shoulder straps – slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • If the school allows them, consider a rolling backpack.  It may be a good choice for students who have to carry a heavy load back and forth.  Keep in mind, though, that they still must be carried up stairs, they are difficult to roll in the snow, and the may not fit in some lockers.

Riding on the School Bus

  • If the school bus has seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when on the bus.
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before coming near it.
  • Check for traffic before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.  Look both ways!
  • Make sure your child walks where they can see the bus driver, so that the driver will be able to see them too.
  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or the school building.

Traveling to School in the Car

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt.  Don’t forget the size-appropriate car seat or booster seat!  It may not be “cool,” but it is safer!
  • Your child should ride in a car 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 he or she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, and the shoulders are above the top harness slots, or his/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 the 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.  Make sure they use the seat belts, limit the number of passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone use, or texting to prevent driving distraction.  Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather.  Make sure you are familiar with your state’s license laws for teens and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process.

Biking to School

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride is.
  • Ride on the right, and in the same direction as the cars.  Be sure the rider is familiar with the “rules of the road.”
  • Use the appropriate hand signals, and respect traffic lights & stop signs.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing to increase visibility.  White or light colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important when it’s getting dark

Walking to School

  • Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route, and that there are well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersections.
  • Find other children in your 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 on their walk to school.
  • Be realistic about your child’s ability to walk to school.  Because smaller children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not they are ready to walk to school without an adult.
  • Walk with your children the first week, particularly if they are young or are walking to a new school, until you are sure that they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Brightly colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

After School (and Before School) Child Care

  • During early and middle childhood, children need supervision by a responsible adult.  They should be available to get the children ready and off to school in the morning, and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
  • If a family members will care for your child, let them know what your rules are regarding discipline and homework.  They can help to keep it consistent.
  • Pre-teens (11 & 12 year olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
  • If alternate supervision by an adult is not available, make efforts to supervise the 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, make sure to do your research.  Inquire about the training of the staff, the staff-to-child ratio, and the safety of the rooms & play areas.

Developing Good Homework & Study Habits

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework – children need a consistent workspace in their bedroom or another area of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Establish a rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time, and supervise computer & Internet usage.
  • Be available to answer questions and help as needed, by never do children’s homework for them.
  • 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 yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.
  • Some children need help organizing their homework and assignments.  Checklists, timers, and supervision can help to 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 provider.

For more information:

Source: CMG