Welcome back to school! It’s that time again to carry backpacks, complete homework assignments, play with friends, and set goals for the school year. If you’re unprepared to take on the task ahead, don’t sweat it. We have top back to school tips to help you and your kiddo have a successful and healthy school year to come.
Heavy Backpacks Can Injure The Neck, Shoulders, and Back
Let’s face it. There’s a lot to learn in the school year, and sometimes that is reflected by the weight of a backpack. Average backpack weight should be about 10-20 percent of your child’s body weight according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Between binders, textbooks, agendas, and notebooks, backpack weight success can be rather difficult. Help your child keep their health and posture in check with these back to school tips for backpack weight.
Carry around these tips:
- Choose backpacks that have padded backs and straps.
- Encourage your child to keep both straps on, instead of just having one strap over the shoulder.
- Ensure that backpacks do not dip below the lower back. If it does, there’s too much stuff inside.
- Remove unrequired papers every week. Accumulated papers add up and can really weigh the backpack down over time.
- Talk to your child’s school about soft-cover textbooks or leaving textbooks at home and using school copies in the classroom.
- Consider a rolling backpack. Keep in mind though that bad weather or campus design (oh, stairs!) can make rolling backpack travel challenging.
- Find tips about choosing a good backpack here.
Sometimes Homework Focus Doesn’t Come Easy
Is your child in the zone when tackling homework? Or, are they in their very own version of la, la land? Homework completion can be challenging for kiddos, especially at home where they are used to having a ton of fun all of the time. Attention can dwindle. Take heart in knowing that there are many ways to help your kiddo improve upon their homework focus.
Grab onto these back to school tips for homework completion:
- Don’t rush through homework assignments. Pick times when you have a good amount of time to ensure that your kiddo completes what they need to.
- Experiment with homework breaks. Some kids need a few break sessions before completing assignments.
- Break assignments into smaller, more manageable steps. Set a timer for the next break and set a timer for break time too. Doing so can also teach time management skills. Timers could become your best friend with this back to school tip.
- Always stick to your routine. Routines help kids prepare for what’s coming next, thus improving focus on a task.
- Create a space at home specifically designed for assignment completion. The at-home homework zone should be free of distractions like TV and video games. Include scratch paper and needed supplies in this space before getting started. Some kiddos find every excuse they can to wander about, so plan ahead.
- Aim to get quality sleep by putting away screens an hour before bed and sticking to a routine. Sleep helps improve so many areas of life, including focus.
- Talk to your school about after-school programs for homework completion. You may also consider a tutor. Sometimes we need a little one-on-one help to get the job done, and that’s okay.
Movement is a Powerful Tool for Kids and Adults Alike
The body is truly an instrument that needs to play. Regular movement can help improve focus and attention, keep the body strong, and boost mental health. Kids need, at a bare minimum, one hour of physical activity every day. The good news is that movement sessions don’t have to happen all at once.
Jump into these back to school tips for movement:
- If your child enjoys a sport, let them pursue it. Enroll them in a sport of their choosing so that they stay interested and motivated. Try not to force anything on your child, rather, encourage them to to try something new.
- Schedule in time for any movement that your child enjoys, even if it is just walking around.
- Incorporate movement breaks during homework. Stand and stretch or go outside. Anything to get the body moving counts!
- Is your child uninterested in movement? It’s clear they haven’t found something they love yet. Check out our previous blog about encouraging movement without sports here.
- Set rules around technology. It’s okay to play and learn on tech in moderation, but remember to balance it out with good ‘ol movement away from the screens.
- Focus on good posture while working. Proper posture prevents aches and pains that can prevent your kiddo from moving about and all around.
- Set an example. If you are on the couch all day or on your phone, your child is very likely to follow right behind. Start small and take even just a few extra minutes a day to move. Increase over time and watch as the body begins to feel amazing.
Set A Big Goal Early in the School Year
Identify one thing you or your kiddo struggles with. Focus on making that one thing, big or small, better this year. Now is a great time when motivation is high. Keep in mind, just like new year’s resolutions, these goals can fall by the wayside. Success is about planning ahead and being clear about the process it will take to accomplish the goal. Keep tabs on measuring progress over time. It may help to write things down in a planner or agenda, just to really make the goal stick. To really dig deep into goal setting, learn about SMART goals here.
Back to School Tips and Additional Help
It’s okay to ask for help. Read that again. We can’t do everything all on our own, which means reaching out is an absolute must if you’re faced with a problem. Ask your school for a tutor. Talk to teachers about concerns. Talk to us about Occupational Therapy (OT). We’re going to surprise you with this fact: OT is more than just fine motor skill development. This type of therapy is also a game changer when improving social skills, self-regulation, executive function skills, and sharpening attention and focus. Reach out to our team today.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2022 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.