Expert shares his tips for back to school preprations

 

AS thousands of Preps flow through the school gates on Wednesday, it's their parents who have the first lot of homework with a local paediatrician outlining six strategies he believes are key to starting the school year.

Among those is the importance of parents not hovering on the first day of school.

Lisa Anese has been using the new school pick-up and drop off routines at Ryan Catholic College Junior Campus with her daughter Hannah, year 4 and Ethan, year 2. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Lisa Anese has been using the new school pick-up and drop off routines at Ryan Catholic College Junior Campus with her daughter Hannah, year 4 and Ethan, year 2. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

"COVID has taught us some valuable lessons about children's resilience," Townsville University Hospital paediatrician Jason Yates said.

"For many months, parents weren't allowed onto the school grounds or into the classroom; children had to be dropped off and they coped.

"On the first day don't linger over your goodbyes or come back for multiple hugs and kisses; your child will settle down much faster if you don't prolong the inevitable."

Dr Yates also suggests enacting a 7.30pm bedtime, with Prep-aged children needing 10-12 hours of sleep a night.

He said parents should focus on giving their children structure, including a routine bedtime, routine wake-up time and set mealtimes.

"Not getting enough sleep affects concentration, energy levels and general mood; not enough sleep means children can't concentrate on information or retain it and they can't lay down their memories like they can after a good night's sleep," Dr Yates said.

Children like these Cathedral School students (back) Lachlan Akroyd, 9, Owen Richardson, 10 Joshua Tomarchio, 8, (front) Sam Galvin, 10, Daniel Pang, 8, and Luke Gleadow, 9, competing in the Townsville Junior Schools Lego Competition, need a good night’s sleep. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Children like these Cathedral School students (back) Lachlan Akroyd, 9, Owen Richardson, 10 Joshua Tomarchio, 8, (front) Sam Galvin, 10, Daniel Pang, 8, and Luke Gleadow, 9, competing in the Townsville Junior Schools Lego Competition, need a good night’s sleep. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Families also need firm rules around devices, including rules for teenagers and cut devices off in the lead up to bedtime.

"Most screens emit blue light, which is very similar to what you filter through your eyes from the sun, so it tricks the brain into thinking it's still daylight," he said.

"Children need a lag time of about two hours between when their eyes are no longer filtering blue light to bedtime for the natural sleep hormone melatonin to start being released."

Cathy and Nick Apps with kids Oliver 14 and Geordie 12, show off the ingredients of a healthy school lunch. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Cathy and Nick Apps with kids Oliver 14 and Geordie 12, show off the ingredients of a healthy school lunch. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

Dr Yates said a healthy lunch was also an essential ingredient to success at school.

"Lunch boxes can often be the undoing of busy parents, but we should aim for a sandwich, fruit, vegetables and a bottle of water for our children," he said.

"Carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, a sandwich and piece of fruit will keep well in a cooler bag and are popular choices for children. Try and avoid processed and packaged foods and sugary drinks which are low in nutrients and high in sugar and fat."

Originally published as Expert shares his tips for back to school preprations