Here are some tips for parents to keep in mind as we dive head first into BACK TO SCHOOL!!

SLEEP!  A good night’s sleep is essential for the brain to process the day’s activities and lessons.  Children 4-8 years old need 10 hours of sleep a night. A one hour nap before 4 pm can be a good supplement and should not affect falling asleep later. Children 8 to 11 years need 8-9 hours while teenagers (11-15 years) need MORE sleep than their younger siblings: 9-10 hours a night. Discuss bedroom rules, hours of sleep and a wind-down routine with your kids. No cell-phones, computers or televisions are to be on (or even accessible) during sleep time. Keep them in another room if necessary. Institute a reasonable bedtime the week before school starts.

NO! No caffeine.

COMMUNICATION! Your child needs to talk to you about school. Where will you find five dedicated minutes to listen? How about no electronics while commuting to and from school; or at mealtime together; and even 5 minutes before ‘lights-out’ at bedtime? With no television, cell phone or computer, your child will know you are ready to hear from them.

HOMEWORK!  Create a homework spot, well-lit and away from distraction. Let your child pick out their own style of desk accessories, a cork board (for great test results and upcoming projects) and a jumbo calendar.  Personalizing the space makes it easier for children to sit and tackle the task at hand. No Excuses!

OPEN-MINDED OPTIMISM! It’s a clean slate, a new beginning, a fresh start. Expect the best. Work hard. Block the negative messages you may hear about the new teacher, the new student or the new syllabus. This is an Olympic year: Go for Gold!!

LUNCH! Now more than ever parents are aware of the cost of buying lunch on-the-road and the low nutritional value of many pre-packaged snacks. Shop purposefully. Encourage your children to help make their own lunches as a part of their “winding down” every evening. Home-made sandwiches, a fruit (or two) and an igloo of ice and water can be prepared from the night before, and will be cheaper and healthier than “ a patty plus tax”. WATCH this video featuring some more tips from our nutritionist Kerry Weatherly.

A little planning ahead and a lot of agreement on goals can result in a fruitful year for every member of the family not just the ‘schoolaz’.

  • S Sleep
  • C Communication
  • H Homework
  • O Open-mindedness
  • O Optimism
  • L Lunch


Strong Body. Healthy Mind. Solid Foundation.

This is an edited reproduction of our editorial as it appears in the

Back to School Supplement of the Jamaica Observer

Friday Aug 17, 2012