Top 10 Back to School Tips for Parents

August 22, 2017

As we are quickly approaching a new school year, the Genesee Health Plan wants to make sure you and your children are prepared. We have rounded up 10 tips and resources to help you plan for a successful school year for your children and family.

1. Protect against germs. Proper handwashing habits and use of antibacterial hand sanitizers can prevent germs that may spread in school from student to student. Encourage your children to develop healthy habits before the school year, such as washing their hands after using the bathroom, sneezing or coughing into their elbow, and using hand sanitizer or washing their hands before eating. Remember to also clip a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer to your child’s backpack.

2. Pack a healthy lunch. A balanced, healthy lunch is important for keeping your children fueled and focused in school. Incorporate foods high in fiber and protein so they stay full. Try to avoid processed foods high in sugar and sodium. For example, instead of packing gummy snacks and fruit drinks include fresh fruits and vegetables and a bottle of water. The American Heart Association also offers ideas for healthy, nutritious meals.

3. Shop local back to school deals. Looking for the best back to school deals? We have done the work for you and developed a list of back to school sales at local shopping centers, including Staples, Walmart, Target and Walgreens. You can also find deals and coupons in your area at

4. Visit a school supply giveaway. Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association is hosting a free school supply distribution event on Wednesday, Aug. 23 at 4:30 p.m. after its Community Library Celebration located at Oxley Drive and Janice Drive. The event is open to the public, and students can pick up supplies including notebooks, pencils and more. Supplies are available on a first-come first-served basis. For more information, visit Brownell-Holmes Neighborhood Association’s Facebook event page or call Jeanette Edwards at (810) 835-9357.

The UAW Region 1-D Women’s Council is hosting its annual Back to School Rally on Thursday, Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 4549 Van Slyke Road. The event is open to the public and students in need. Students will each receive a free backpack. Call the UAW Region 1-D at (810) 767-0910 for more information.

5. Schedule a doctor’s appointment. In addition to shopping for school supplies and clothing, it’s also important to schedule your child’s back to school visit with their pediatrician. Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date and schedule a physical exam, even if your child isn’t playing sports. This will make sure your child is ready for a healthy school year. For more information about immunizations, watch our WNEM TV Health Yes! segment, which originally aired on Aug. 8, or contact the Genesee County Health Department at (810) 257-3612. You can also visit the Immunizations page on their website by clicking here.

6. Visit the dentist. One back to school task often overlooked by parents is scheduling a trip to the dentist’s office. Dental visits remind children of the importance of good oral health habits, like brushing teeth at least twice per day for two minutes and flossing daily. Need to find a dentist? Visit the Michigan Dental Association’s website to find one near you. The Michigan Dental Association also offers tips to help children develop good oral health habits. The Genesee District Dental Society (GDDS)’s website is also a great local resource for Genesee County residents to read about local dental news, find GDDS dentists and learn about other dental resources.

7. Ease back into a healthy bedtime routine. Routines are important for children. As you prepare for the new school year, start adjusting your family’s sleeping schedule so your child gets used to waking up early and going to bed early. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, children should get at least 10 hours of sleep per night. Getting plenty of sleep will make sure your child is ready to learn and have fun at school. Click here for a complete list of recommended hours of sleep per night based on the age of your child or family member.

8. Keep a family calendar. The school year can be a very busy time for families packed with meetings, afterschool activities and events. Use a planner or calendar on your refrigerator, or set up a Google calendar to keep track of important events like doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences, school events and extra-curricular activities for your family. Having your family’s events and appointments in one place will make it easier for you to stay organized!

9. Monitor screen time and social media use. Many students have smartphones and are connected to them throughout the school day. Talk with your child about healthy social media and smartphone habits. The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers recommendations for screen time usage. At home, encourage each family member to place their smartphone or electronic device in a container during meal times to provide distraction-free family time.

10. Set healthy and achievable goals for the school year. In addition to setting goals like getting good grades, we also encourage parents to set health-focused goals for their children. These goals could include making sure your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day or replacing a sweet treat with a healthy snack, like an apple or carrots.

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