Children on their way to school.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
With schools due to reopen in twoand- a-half weeks, parents are encouraged to take steps now to accustom children to a new agenda. Experts at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva provided advice on how to guide them on road safety, improve their learning experience, how to reset their biological clocks and what food to take to school.
Deganit Ben-Nissan, a senior psychologist at the Institute for Child Development and Rehabilitation, said during the summer vacation, many children change their habits. “During the last days of the vacation, it’s recommended to gradually adjust the child to the normal hours of sleep,” he said.
“In addition, the preparations and arrangements for school, as well as purchasing stationary and stocking their school bags help prepare the child mentally for returning to school. One should also allow the child to express his feelings about returning to the framework of studies.”
Hila Argentro, director of the Center for Learning Disabilities at the medical center’s psychological medicine department, said a sense of belonging to the school is important for proper learning and coping with problems, especially learning difficulties.
“Parents should pay attention to the to the child’s mood before and after school and ensure he or she feels comfortable with teachers and peers. If you sense discomfort or anxiety, contact the school and work with educators to improve the child’s sense of belonging,” she said.
Argentro said early intervention as close as possible to the beginning of the year can prevent more complex difficulties arising in the future “and significantly improve the child’s learning experience and abilities to cope.”
Prof. Yehezkel Weissman, director of Schneider’s Emergency Medicine Department, warned that many children are injured on the way to and from school.
“Therefore, care must be taken to accompany children up to the age of nine when crossing the road. Make sure that they stop at the curb, look in all directions and only then cross the road.”
He said parents should also instruct children not to cross the road between parked cars or behind buses and not to play ball games near the road. “It’s important to ensure that the school bag is not heavy and does not exceed 15% of the child’s weight.”
Weissman added that during the first few weeks of school, special care should be taken to protect the child from the sun and drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.
Dafna Ziv Busani, a dietitian at the Nutrition and Diet Unit recommended preparing a diet for returning to school, breakfast is an important and essential meal for children, as it improves concentration and enables greater alertness during the school day.
She suggested for breakfast, that one can make a sandwich with cheese or another spread like tehina, serve non-sweetened cereal with milk or, if they’re in a rush, pack sliced fruit and yogurt. “Urge children not to buy prepared snacks at school; instead, agree on what you will send with them. You can even plan the menu for the whole week.
“Have the child take vegetables and fruits along with the sandwich and always prepare a bottle of cold water,” Busani advised.
She emphasized that families should always try and eat the evening meal together at the dinner table and not in front of the TV. “The meal should include proteins such as meatballs, schnitzel or fish cutlets. Complex carbohydrates such as chickpeas, lentils and beans, along with whole-grain rice or quinoa should accompany them. Combine cooked vegetables or vegetable salad with pasta or sweet potato.”
After school, children should be encouraged to do sports or gymnastics “instead of being couch potatoes.”
“Exercise is important for health as well as raising the child’s self-confidence and sense of competence,” the experts added.