Set kids on the path to school year success with tips from UAB experts

As kids prepare to go back to school, UAB experts say planning ahead with these tips can help children reach academic and personal goals.

back to schoolAugust brings a flurry of back-to-school activity, and University of Alabama at Birmingham experts say a little preparation goes a long way.

Budget it all in:

Before the first day of classes even starts there are often several purchases to be made, from school supplies to new clothes and accessories. UAB Collat School of Business instructor Elizabeth Turnbull, MBA, suggests the following to help avoid breaking the bank:

  • Use promotional products like pens and stationery and art supplies that are already lying around the house.
  • Buy in bulk with other families and split the cost; if you have several kids, keep a school supply basket or closet to save bulk items.
  • Involve the kids in purchasing attire and other needs; teach them budgeting now to set them up for an understanding of personal finances.

Get some rest:

Breaking bad summer-sleep habits like late nights and too few hours of slumber should happen ahead of the first day of school because a good night’s sleep improves overall performance, says Kristin Avis, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, adding:

  • Kids should get nine hours of sleep nightly.
  • Bedtime and rise time should be consistent seven days a week.
  • Avoid sleeping in on the weekend; it can cause struggle when trying to get back on a sleep schedule come Monday.

Practice good nutrition:

Another key component for children’s success in school is their nutrition, says Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences.

  • Kids need breakfast; not eating before going to school can hinder cognitive function.
  • Start the day with fruits, proteins and whole grains; avoid sugary cereals because they cause a sugar high, then a crash.
  • Send them to school with a healthy, well-balanced lunch.
  • Provide after-school snacks such as yogurt, fruits and vegetables.

Parents, get involved:

Make plans for the school year ahead with your child, says Shirley Ginwright, administrator and program director for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Community Outreach Development. Parents who are active in their children’s schooling ensure children will reach their potential in academic and personal goals.

  • Establish benchmarks that will help them stay focused, and provide positive reinforcement each time goals are met.
  • Ask about your children’s day at school; discuss what they learned, help with their homework, read with them, and help them to prepare for the next day.
  • Take action; talk to your children’s teachers, principal, counselors and support staff for ideas on reinforcing educational goals.
  • Continually and positively reinforce your expectations throughout the school year.

Keep active after school:

Sandra Sims, Ph.D., associate professor of human studies in the UAB School of Education, says studies show that extracurricular activities have positive correlations to school attachment, school completion and graduation, and grade-point average.

  • Find an activity that your child enjoys; it should be a pleasure, not a pain, for kids to participate.
  • Consider recreational sports teams to help kids get some aerobic activity and muscular strength.
  • Have after-school fun at home by walking, biking and hiking; get the whole family involved.
  • Do not forget the arts; a more outgoing, athletic student may enjoy dance classes or acting, and a child who prefers to work more independently could get involved with music or creative writing.

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