Palmetto Parent 2010 August issue : Page 9

What’s in your backpack? JJ Levenstein, a Los Angeles-based pediatrician and co-founder of MD Moms, says some impor-tant items are often overlooked as notebooks an mechanical pencils fill that shiny new backpack. But what else should be in there? n Children need plenty of water during the day, 18 to 24 ounces, or twice that amount they have after-school activities. Levenstein recommends freezing a water bottle so it is thawed but cold at lunch. She says parents should avoid fruit drinks that are often 10 percent juice and a high percentage of high fructose corn syrup. n Wipes are important for cleaning hands, especially if children will not have access to soap and water prior to snacks or lunch. n Parents should inquire about school poli-cies regarding sunscreen, Levenstein says. If allowed, students should bring it for after-school activities, in addition to apply-ing it before school. Chemical sunscreens should be applied 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Physical sunscreens such as zinc oxide do not require advance application. “Unless it is deluge raining, kids should have sunscreen on every day,” Levenstein says. tant that sleep is,” she said. Mom and dad may want that time with their children after work and school, but Falato said delaying bedtime could leave children ill prepared for class. “If they are allowing them to stay up late to make up for that time, they are doing that for themselves,” she said. Levenstein said children need annual checkups even after immunizations are completed and she encourages parents to plan ahead for sports physicals, medication and school forms, as well as dental and vi-sion checks. A good fit If your child is going to school for the first time, or transitioning to a new school, Levenstein recommends driving by the school and talking about it well in advance of the first day. She also suggested reading books about going to school. “From seeing, reading about it or talking about it, it isn’t abrupt,” she said. August 2010 At her school, Falato tries to remove the mystery before children begin. “Once a child has been enrolled,we recommend that parents bring the child in,” she said. “They can meet the teacher, see the classroom, see the cubbies and see where the bathroom is. Talk about it in positive terms — what they will be seeing, what they will be doing.Use very real, specific terms.” The transition is easier if the school and the student are a good match, according to Levenstein. “I see too many parents enrolling their children and they’ve just conceived,” she said. “They don’t know their child yet.” Levenstein said since children are dif-ferent, no one school can meet every child’s needs. Falato shares that philosophy. “Parents need to be comfortable with where there child is,” she said. Morning plans “Make a plan for school mornings before www.palmettoparent.com school starts,”Levenstein said. “Especially the little ones — they need to know what’s coming next. Wake up with adequate time for breakfast. Encourage independence with dressing and tooth brushing. Put clothes out the night before.Organization is key, whether you have one kid or 10 kids.” Falato said families should prepare the night before so children can have a smooth start to the day. “Breakfast is absolute,” she said. “Chil-dren need something healthy in the morn-ing. The evening before, clothes need to be laid out. Give them two choices — ‘Do you want to wear this or this?’Moms have to be well scheduled. One of the worst things parents can do is turn on the TV (in the morning).” Columbia resident Marcy Bytnar said her boys love school, but she makes sure morn-ings are as stress-free as possible by seeing that Tucker, 11, Jake, 8, and Hank, 4, plan ahead. “We get breakfast, get backpacks ready Palmetto Parent 9 Angelica Falato, director of Lake Murray Montessori School, works with student Connor Mallet.

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