Tag Archives: back to school

A Pediatrician’s “Back to School” Checklist

AdobeStock_52157424As your child is starting a new school year, here are some important things to think about for a smooth and healthy transition for the whole family.

Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is all caught up on required immunizations and that he or she has had a routine check-up with your pediatrician within the past year.

Notify your school of any medical conditions or special needs that your child may have. Find out if the school requires any forms to be filled out by your pediatrician if your child does require specific accommodations for a medical condition.

Get organized and informed. Ask your child’s teachers if he or she will need any special school supplies. Find out if there are any ways for you to volunteer or get involved in school events. Children often do much better in school when their parents or caregivers get to know their teachers and are involved in school activities.

Re-establish a healthy sleep schedule. Kids often have slightly altered sleep schedules during the summer months due to vacation and other factors. If your children have gotten used to a later bedtime during the summer, gradually move bedtime up by 30 minutes every few nights for 1-2 weeks in anticipation of an earlier bedtime during the school year.

Discuss how you will handle meals during the busy school year. Decide if your child will be eating breakfast and/or lunch that is provided by the school or if you will preparing those meals from home. If your child will be eating meals at school, find out what kind of healthy foods are available. Notify your school of any food allergies that your child may have. Make a list of easy to prepare, healthy snacks that you can have on hand for a quick snack after your child returns home from a busy school day. Some examples of healthy snacks that require little preparation include carrots and hummus, sliced apples and peanut butter, popcorn (lightly salted with no butter), or low-fat cheese and cut fruit.

Make plans for after school arrangements and transportation for your child. Decide if your child will need to be in an afterschool program or look into other after school child care options if required. Plan on carpool arrangements if needed.

Plan to be active! Choose 1-2 extracurricular activities that your child will enjoy participating in during the school year. Encourage your child to find something they will look forward to and feel passionate about. Avoid overscheduling too many commitments during the year.

Help your child work out back-to-school jitters with an open conversation. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about starting the new year, what to expect, and back-to-school safety. Read about how to manage potential concerns such as bullying, stress and burnout, and peer pressure. If you have questions about how to recognize or handle any of these issues, ask your pediatrician.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Madhavi Kapoor, MD, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone and a pediatrician at NYU Langone at Trinity.

 

The First Day of Preschool: Preparing your Child for Success

first-day-preschool

By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

Preschool is a significant milestone, and as a parent it’s natural to feel conflicted. You want your child to transition and acclimate successfully, but there is always pain in change and in parting. As a mother of four, I faced many moments like these! Here are some helpful tips for preparing your child to enter a new world with confidence and excitement.

Keep it light.
Though you may not know it, children can easily sense when their parents are overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. If you are uneasy, your child will determine that she should also be uneasy. You hold all the power when it comes to her perception of school, so implement a strategy to manage your stress and hers. Be calm and easy when you talk about school. Be positive and steady as you set out to prepare her in the weeks leading up to the first day. Remember that you are her rock, and she will likely mirror the example you set.

Act it out.
Prepare your child in the weeks leading up to the first day of school by previewing what he can expect. Act out scenarios taking turns in the roles of child, parent and teacher. Here are a few fun things to practice together:

• Taking off and hanging your coat
• Saying goodbye to Mommy or Daddy
• Eating lunch from a lunchbox
• Reading stories (about preschool, if possible!)
• Singing songs
• Taking naps
• Playing outside

Also be sure to rehearse picking him up from school so he will understand that the day has an endpoint. Acting out these skills and routines is also an opportunity to answer his questions and reassure him that preschool is a safe place to learn and grow.

Pay a visit.
Take your child to visit her school and meet her teachers before the program begins. (This is a great time to ask questions of your own and learn how to better prepare her.) You may also want to arrange a few play dates before school starts to create a positive association.

Set new routines.
You want to work smarter, not harder. Two to three weeks before school starts, begin to alter your weekday routine to resemble the routine of the school year. You may think you want to savor those last few weeks by preserving your normal schedule, but you’re making more work for yourself in the long run! Here are some suggestions for getting organized and making the transition less jarring:

• Go school shopping for a backpack, just the two of you. If possible, let him choose it to empower him as “big kid” starting preschool.
• Label the backpack and other loose items (lunchbox, jacket, etc.) with his name and his teacher’s name in permanent marker.
• If your child takes medication on a daily basis, contact the school and take care of the paperwork in advance.
• Know how your child will be getting to and from school. If you have arranged for afterschool help from a neighbor, caregiver or friend, be sure your child understands how he’ll be cared for.
• Change “summer bedtime” to an earlier “school bedtime.” Healthy sleep habits will help him adjust to a school schedule before it starts, which is much nicer for you.
• Establish a special but simple “goodbye” routine. I found I could minimalize separation anxiety by blowing three kisses to one of my children, while another wanted me to sing a few lines of his favorite song. Whatever it is, make sure your child plays a part in creating this comforting coping mechanism.

Watch and listen.
Be on the lookout for verbal and nonverbal signs of worry in your child. She may be especially nervous the night before school, so keep things light and relaxed. Be sure she goes to bed on time, and let her pick out the clothes she will wear to save time in the morning. Before bed, try to talk about something other than school.

If she expresses any worry, listen, don’t dismiss. Let her know that her feelings are completely normal—you might even share a story about a time you felt worried and how you got through it. By allowing her to share her fears, you can walk her through them and show her how to deal with them. (Try this great list of phrases to help calm an anxious child.)

Make your exit.
Plan to stay for 15-20 minutes while your child acclimates to the classroom. When he starts to relax, it’s time to go! If he doesn’t seem comfortable, ask a teacher to stay with him when you leave so that an adult will be there to support him. It will be hard, but try to resist the urge to come back if you hear him cry. Responding to his distress by reappearing sends the message that he can’t be happy if you’re not there. Preschool teachers are experts at helping children adapt to school, and you can help make their work easier by not lingering.

Best of luck in the coming school year, and above all, remember to stay positive. Your child’s new routine will feel natural soon enough!

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Preparing to Go Back to School

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By: The Kumon Team

August is a good month to prepare for the new school year while still savoring the joys of summer. If you’re like most parents, juggling fun and learning isn’t always easy. Summer vacation is meant to give children a break from their long days of school, but it doesn’t mean students should stop learning completely. Children who continue learning over the summer have a much easier time adjusting to the full-time school schedule in September.

While summer fun is at an all-time high, use the month of August to get them back into a routine that is more closely aligned with the fall schedule. You can set a specific time for reading a book each day and make it fun by establishing “together time.” For instance, you can ask your child to read a book that matches a summer activity you shared, such as going to the beach, riding horses, or camping. Enhance these special learning moments by taking the reading session outdoors on a picnic or under a tree. To show interest in what your child is reading, and to learn more about his or her interests and reading style, try to schedule the reading time before dinner so that conversation at mealtime is filled with questions about the story.

As the school year comes into focus, your child may have some concerns and hesitation. From new teachers to new friends, new schools to new schedules, the anticipation of school starting up again can cloud the excitement of the awaiting opportunities. You can help your child adjust to back to school by listening and forming a strong connection with your child. Doing this reinforces the idea that your child isn’t going through this alone and that the people closest to him or her understand the mixed emotions that come with new beginnings. August is the perfect time to turn back-to-school blues into back-to-school bliss.

Interested in Kumon’s programs? Check out all available NYC programs and locations here!

How to Get Kids Organized for Back To School

junge in der grundschule hält sich den kopf
What is executive functioning or organizational skills problems?

Executive functioning describes a set of skills that allows us to plan, attend, remember instructions, and effectively juggle multiple tasks. Just as the conductor of an orchestra uses skills to manage different instruments, timing, volume, and song order, the brain must filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and regulate impulses. When back to school time comes, children with organizational skills deficits can have suffering grades and experience stress and lower self-esteem. Many children with learning and attention problems have difficulty with organizational skills.

Kids’ organizational skills influence the following:

Task management:
– Knowing where to start
– Following through on tasks
– Making adjustments and edits
– Completing in a timely fashion

Writing and comprehension skills:
– Knowing how to organize ideas
– Creating topic sentences and summarizing
– Completing written assignments
– Scanning and finding pertinent information

Homework:
– Using a planner
– Bringing home correct materials
– Getting started
– Creating an agenda
– Managing time
– Making careless errors

Organizational skills and school. Even for children who are bright and motivated, organizational demands can be a challenge. Kids can struggle with remembering homework, using their planners, and managing long-term assignments. As kids move through the grades, organizational demands become more intense. More independence, responsibility, and complex assignments occur. Kids with organizational skills problems may have suffering grades due to missed assignments and forgetting to study for a test.  This can create parent-child tension and poor feelings about school.

Strategies that work. The key to a successful organizational skills program is a partnership between teachers, students, and parents based on open communication and a proactive problem-solving skills-based approach.

Here are some tips:

Elementary School
– Begin to utilize systems such as “to do” and “all done” bins
– Use color-coded folders and baskets
– Spend time each day on planner writing skills
– For younger kids, praise them for using a homework folder effectively
– Use positive reinforcement for good homework behavior

Middle School
– As academic demands increase, so do organizational demands
– Spend time each week on organization
– Color code folders
– Find the “perfect” planner even if you have to design your own
– Create a filing system at home for “overflow”
– Have individualized meetings with teachers to discuss long-term assignments.

High School
– Email assignments—using technology is very helpful!
– Use your smart phone to take a picture of homework if written on the board
– Find out if your school posts homework and assignments on a website
– Meet regularly with teachers, drop in for extra help and to get feedback

Looking to the future. As people become more aware of the importance of organizational skills for success in school, more programs are being offered. There are programs offered at medical and educational centers such as the Child Study Center at NYU Langone and in private outpatient offices. The key is to identify the root of the difficulty and create a positive and skills-based approach. With the proper support, kids can learn skills, improve their grades and feel more successful.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Dana Levy Hyman, PsyD is clinical psychologist and a clinical assistant professor at the NYU Langone’s Child Study Center who specializes in working with children with attention difficulties, behavior problems, autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, and anxiety and mood difficulties. She has an expertise in taking research-based therapies and tailoring them to meet each child and families needs. She uses practical and skills-based techniques in a supportive and validating environment to help each client improve their experiences at home, school or socially. She works collaboratively with families and schools to create a team approach.

It’s Fall! Here Are 10 Musts for Kids’ Classes This Season

While we’re all pretty sad that summer has come to an end, there’s so much good that comes with the fall: cool, crisp days spent outside (ok not today, but soon enough!); beautiful foliage; fun fall activities (think apple picking, hay rides, and more); and of course, the start of fall kids’ classes! If you need a few recos to get your family ready for the new season, here are some great picks that will make the fall the most fun season of all!

Jodi’s Gymstandard__DSC0128. This Upper East Side program has it all when it comes to gymnastics for little ones (age eight months to eight years). Weekly classes get kids running, jumping, and tumbling all season long, and offer just the right exercises and activities for every age and skill level. Plus, members are entitled to enjoy three free playtimes each week (that’s over 50 per semester!). So hurry up and enroll—classes start September 14!

Soc Roc. Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean children can’t enjoy classes outside in the fresh air. Soc Roc offers awesome soccer classes in great outdoor venues such as Manhattan’s Central Park, McCarren Park and Bushwick Inlet Park in Brooklyn, and Astoria Park in Queens! This program allows kids of all ages to learn the basics of soccer while having a blast with their peers. And if outdoor classes aren’t right for your child, Soc Roc also offers indoor classes in various NYC neighborhoods. Classes start over throughout next two weeks!

Physique Swimminghi res-girls with paddleboards. Although swim season will soon be a distant memory, kids can enjoy swim classes all year long with Physique Swimming! Not only does this program offer classes for all ages, but it also has locations throughout the city, including FiDi, Lower East Side, Midtown East and West, Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side. The classes help little ones get comfortable with the water, and teach basic skills such as splashing and blowing bubbles. So what are you waiting for? Classes start this week!

StageCoach Theatre Arts. Kids can be so dramatic sometimes, so why not let them channel their drama through a theater arts class? Offering weekend sessions on the Upper East Side, StageCoach has classes for kids age 4–14, where students spend an hour and a half singing, dancing, acting, and building self-confidence through group acting, solo work, and participation in an original play. It’s a great opportunity for your child to test his or her acting chops, and the perfect time for you to run a few weekend errands, all the while knowing your little one is happy and having fun. Classes start September 12!

Chocolate Works Upper East Sidestandard_sushi. With tons of fall workshops for kids age three and up, Chocolate Works is a delicious spot on the Upper East Side where kids learn to make sweet treats and use their imaginations at the same time. The store hosts regular workshops on both weekends and weekdays that teach kids how to make and decorate lollipops, chocolate pizza, candy bars, and even candy sushi! The program also hosts special holiday-themed classes (like Rosh Hashanah coming up!), so there are lots of options for everyone’s schedule.

The Art Farm in the City. One of the only kids’ programs in NYC to focus on nature and animals, The Art Farm in the City is a favorite on the Upper East Side. Kids as young as six months old can drop in for Play Time or enjoy a great variety of semester classes, such as their signature Rocks, Smocks, and Animals class or Farm Foodies Cooking Class. The fall session start this week, so reserve your child’s seat now!

JCC in ManhattanHappy little boy playing in playroom. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the JCC in Manhattan offers a tons of kids’ classes in ballet, sports, tumbling, tennis, and more—so no matter what you’re looking for, this program is sure to have it! They even offer weekly Little Maestros classes, the popular kids’ music program that started on the Upper East Side. If you live on the Upper West Side, this one is a no brainer.

Gymboree. This popular program is known for its Play & Learn enrichment classes, where babies learn developmental skills and are exposed to music, movement, and age-appropriate activities. But beyond this great program, Gymboree offers a whole lot more: art, music, and even preschool prep classes! There are many locations throughout Manhattan, so no matter where you live, there is sure to be a Gymboree nearby.

14th Street Ystandard_Musical_Notes_with_Nathan. If music is your child’s thing, you’ll find no shortage of great options at the 14th Street Y. Classes like Rock-a-Baby and Boogie with Brett incorporate songs, instruments, musical stories, and more and let kids age 12 months to three and a half years rock out. Beyond music you’ll find, sports, tumbling, language and more, as well as drop-ins for new parents looking for support or to get in shape after baby! Classes start September 14.

92Y. This Upper East Side program truly has it all—there are hundreds of classes available for babies, toddlers, kids, teens, and even adults. From perennial favorites like swimming and gymnastics, to unique options such as songwriting and classes focusing on twins, kids come from all over NYC to take classes here. The fall session starts throughout September, so you’re sure to find a class that works for your child’s busy schedule.

Which NYC Kids’ Program Is Right For My Child?

Two Children Painting Picture At HomeWhile it’s great that NYC offers so many amazing enrichment programs where little ones can learn and play, it can be daunting to sort through all of the options to figure out which kids’ program is best for your child—especially since the “right” activity changes so much with age. And if you’re new to the whole parenting thing, a million questions can stop you in your tracks: Is three months old too young for music classes? Will a four-year-old girl enjoy soccer? Are there classes for parents too?

If you still don’t know what classes are right for your child this fall, we’re here to help! Here is an age-by-age breakdown of the best kids’ programs in NYC for every age.

0-3 months: While your baby is too young for most NYC kids’ programs, at this point it’s important to find a scheduled activity where you can meet fellow new parents and have a reason to actually get dressed and leave the apartment. Try a new parent support group (like Big City Moms’ New Moms Support Group), which is great for making friends and sharing experiences. Or, for a class that’s good for both the mind and body, try the postnatal yoga classes at programs like Prenatal Yoga Center and the 92Y.

Baby girl and her mother playing at home3-6 months: Your baby is becoming more alert and moving around now, so a music and movement class, such as Little Maestros, Kids Music Round, and Music for Aardvarks will expose your child to singing, rhythm, and songs he or she will be singing for years to come. Another great option at this stage is a baby development class (i.e. Gymboree’s Play & Learn classes or Creative Play for Kids’ Bouncing and Busy Babies) which will nurture your child’s early gross and fine motor development.

6-12 months: At this stage, your baby is probably crawling, walking, or on his or her way! This is the perfect age for a tumbling class. A semester at programs like MAGIC or the JCC Manhattan will let your little one crawl and climb, stretch and step, and continue to enjoy rhythm and song. Keep the music classes going too! Don’t want to commit to another semester-long class? Try a drop-in like Music with James, Music with Suzanna, or Moosiki Kids Music, which your little one can attend as much or as little as you’d like.

standard_Mighty_Muscle_Movers_212–24 months: Kids at this age will benefit from a more action-packed gym class, like Teeny Tumblers at the 92Y or Mighty Muscle Movers at Jodi’s Gym. This is also a great age to begin a foreign language development class, since children are becoming more verbal at this stage and soaking in the language around them. Programs like ¡Hola! A Playgroup in Spansh and The Language Workshop for Children teach children the basics of a new language through play, music, and age appropriate games. Music is also important for language development, so keep those classes on the schedule as well.

2 years: Active two-year-olds are at the perfect age for sports and dance basics classes, which keep them active and offer structure to the day. Some great options are City Moves Dance Studio, which offers classes in a variety of dance styles; Physique Swimming, which offers swim lessons in several Manhattan neighborhoods; and Soc Roc, a fantastic soccer program taught in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. This is also a good time to enroll your child in a preschool 2s program, so he or she can experience a variety of activities while developing socialization skills and preparing for future school years.

standard_kids_conveyorbelt_pretzels3 years: In addition to the preschool program your three-year-old may be attending, try something new at this age! NYC has many unique options, for example a Science class at City Tots, Basketball with Hands on Hoops, and Chocolate Making at Chocolate Works Upper East Side. These programs will expand your child’s horizons and expose him or her to fun new activities.

4+: Now you can really hone in on your child’s interests! Have a budding actor or actress on your hands? Try a dance/theater class at I Can Do That NYC. A Michaelangelo in the making? Creative Space Arts has a basic sculpting class for creative kids. The next Karate Kid? Yang Taekwondo is a studio that will grow with your child, offering martial arts classes for children up to 12 years old. Kidz Central Station also has unique options for Coding, Legos, Manga drawing, and more!

Check out Kidz Central Station to search all of the great class options for your child this fall! Whichever classes and activities you choose, your little one is sure to have a great time learning new things and meeting new friends in the new season.

The Best Kids’ Boutiques in Downtown NYC

Fashion-monger baby on shopping with mom wear new glassesIt’s officially back to school season, which means it’s time to hit the shops for fall kids’ clothing and supplies! To help narrow down places to shop, here is my go-to list of the best kids’ boutiques in downtown NYC to find an assortment of kids’ goodies. While department stores can be convenient, it’s great to support local shops! From children’s clothing and fashionable gear to unique gifts for teachers and birthday parties, these boutiques carry it all. Happy shopping!

Babesta Threads
If you have a trend-setting tot at home, Babesta Threads has unique and ultra fun children’s clothing. Located in the heart of Tribeca, Babesta carries clothing for age 0–12 years old in brands like Munster Kids, Quinn and Fox, and Andy and Evan. Besides amazing clothes, Babesta Threads also sells children’s books, toys, and rockin’ baby tunes. Babesta Cribz, its sister store, is located just around the block and carries a wide array of strollers, gliders, cribs, high chairs, and accessories. For the New York City kid who has it all, Babesta is the place to shop.

My Little Sunshine
The first time I walked into My Little Sunshine, I couldn’t help but smile—the store is absolutely adorable. The boutique sells a wide selection of stylish children’s clothing in sizes infant to eight years from brands like Appaman, Boy + Girl, and Bobo Choses. My Little Sunshine has locations in Tribeca and Chelsea, and sells shoes, one-of-a-kind gifts, and educational toys. My favorite thing about the Tribeca shop is its proximately to CMA, one of the best children’s museums in Manhattan—combine the two and you have the perfect afternoon in the city!

Pink Olive
Pink Olive embodies everything I love about a boutique—beautifully crafted and thoughtful gifts, specialty items, and lots of charm. Shopping here is almost more about treating myself than my daughter! With locations in the East Village, Park Slope, and Williamsburg, Pink Olive sells unique children’s books, gifts, paper goods, and adorable clothing. Pink Olive also has a new series of subscription boxes available – the perfect gift that keeps on giving!

Sweet William Ltd.
Sweet William Ltd., located on the border between Nolita and Soho, sells a wide variety of eclectic kids’ clothing, accessories, and gifts. The store is beautifully designed and features a number of local brands and designers for kids age newborn to age 12. Sweet William is the perfect spot to find a gift for your next birthday party or baby shower!

Egg by Susan Lazar
A list of the best kids’ boutiques downtown wouldn’t be complete without Egg by Susan Lazar, the designer’s new Tribeca shop. The shop’s lofted ceiling heights and all white interiors are quintessential Tribeca. The clothes are sophisticated, yet fresh and timeless. A visit to Egg never disappoints!

Packing (and Picking) Healthy Back to School Snacks

Photo: Jane Feldman

Photo: Jane Feldman

Packing snacks is often a last minute to-do during a hectic morning routine. Most people dash to the pantry, grab something quickly, and throw it in their child’s book bag just before heading out the door. But snack time is an important part of the day that deserves a few more moments of your time. The right snack will do exactly what it’s supposed to do—nourish and satisfy kids and give them the fuel and focus they need to make it until lunch.

Avoid putting your child on an energy roller coaster while at school with processed snacks—full of sugar and refined carbohydrates, which turn immediately to sugar in the body. These snacks may provide a temporary energy boost, but they also cause a major sugar crash, leaving kids lethargic, unfocused, and moody. Fresh fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, maintain blood sugar and provide the necessary energy to ensure kids’ success.

So save the granola bars and crackers for weekends when the mental demands aren’t as high and physical activity is increased. This goes for big kids too (a.k.a. adults!). Instead, here are a few great ideas to add to your basic repertoire of baby carrots and celery sticks. They’re all great to have on hand for after school snacks too!

Fruit Kabobs. Kids love fruit right? Choose a few of their favorites (melon, grapes, strawberries, etc.) and mix in a few veggies to make a kabob! Vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers are all great options. Especially baby bell peppers—they’re particularly sweet, in season, and at their colorful best in the fall. And a great tip—instead of bamboo skewers, use popsicle sticks to make a safer fruit kabob.

Photo: Jane Feldman

Photo: Jane Feldman

Dipped veggies. Fill a small container (a 2 oz. baby food jar is a good size) with your child’s favorite dip—hummus, guacamole, pesto, salsa, or a creamy dressing. Then, cut veggies into short bite-sized pieces and pack them tightly in the container so that the ends of the veggies are in the dip. This makes the snack easy to eat and also saves you from keeping track of two containers.

Funny fruits. Have a little fun and play with your fruit! Instead of using post-its, write notes or jokes, draw pictures or smiley faces, or just say “I love you, now eat me” on bananas, oranges, nectarines, and clementines. Jokingly draw an arrow pointing to the nub end of a banana and write “Open this end.”  Draw black lines on an orange for your young sports fan with the phrase, “Slam dunk your day.” Anything fun will do!

Cinnamon sticks. Toss thin slices of apple or pear into a plastic baggie or container and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. The extra touch of spice goes a long way! It’s simple and easy and can be prepared and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

Nature’s candy bar. Open a medjool date—keeping it together on one side like a clam shell—and remove the pit. Fill the date with nut butter (if allowed at school), sunflower seed butter, pumpkin butter, soy butter, or coconut butter (also called coconut manna or coconut creme). Other great filling ingredients include raw almonds or dried coconut. For a special treat, add a few chocolate chips or a square of dark chocolate. Squish together and enjoy.

Don’t forget the water! Give your child a special BPA free water cup or thermos with his or her name on it. Find one with a squiggly straw or a fun shape—there are options with footballs, dinosaurs, cartoon characters, and more! Kids are much more apt to drink water if they have special cups that are fun and personal.

Healthy families snack together. If you want your child to eat more fruits and vegetables, you have to eat more too! When preparing back to school snacks, pack them for the entire family—if your child is getting fruit kabobs, pack them for mom and dad too. When your kids see that you’re excited and looking forward to the snack, they will be too. You can even make a fun game out of it, and have your child pick each day’s family snack. This goes for stay-at-home parents as well—if your snack is made ahead of time, you’re more apt to eat it rather than grabbing a chocolate bar or bag of chips on the go.

From Sun and Sand to Back to School

phpO96nKfPMHow do you go from endless summer days filled with sun and sand, watermelon and corn on
the cob to backpacks and lunch boxes, pencils and crayons? The answer is simple—it’s not easy! As much as I try to hold on to the joys of summer, every year at this time the little voice in my head starts whispering a hefty to-do list. So, in order to enjoy what’s left of summer vacation, how do you prepare for the busy season ahead?

Ease back in to back to school shopping. I used to carve out entire days for back to school shopping, but I’ve learned over the years that it’s easier to get back into the school mindset gradually by picking up different items at different times. If there’s a sale on school supplies somewhere, my kids and I will head to that store and get what we can. If I can’t get everything at once, it’s okay. This way my kids have their say and I can finish up at my leisure. In my experience, kids are much more concerned about choosing their lunch boxes and backpacks than anything else! Which brings me to my next tip . . .

Invest in a good backpack! For parents of older children, it’s worth investing in a really good—sometimes expensive—backpack. It will hold up better throughout the year and can easily go in the wash. As my kids got older, they used their backpacks for more than just one year, and even swapped backpacks with cousins and friends for a little variety. As for lunch boxes on the other hand, don’t overspend—you’ll want to throw them out at the end of the school year or maybe use them for camp if you’re really lucky.

Start implementing a regular bedtime. Especially if your children are in pre-K through primary school, decide on an appropriate bedtime and start putting it into practice. Don’t start a new bedtime all of a sudden; ease it into your kids’ schedules so that those first few school days aren’t disastrous. For parents of night owls, by the end of August it will start getting dark out earlier, so that should help with getting your kids into bed at a reasonable hour. If you are fortunate enough to have good sleepers, start getting them up earlier in the morning.

phpb1sKaDPMSchedule check ups and physicals. This one’s simple. You child will definitely need a physical for school, so by planning for it now when things are a little less hectic, you won’t have to switch your whole schedule around just to get to the doctor’s office.

Take even just one of these tips and put it into practice, and you’ll be way ahead of the game! You’ll still have plenty of time to head to the beach, put your toes in the sand, and enjoy the last of summer.