Beyond the Backpack: Tips for a Healthy Start

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Back to school preparation, both physically and mentally, seems to sneak up on us and can often feel overwhelming for both students and families.  Recently, Dr. Gautam Desai, DO, FACOFP dist, Professor & Chair, Department of Primary Care at Kansas City University, shared recommendations to help lessen anxieties and ensure a smooth transition into the new school year.

Dr. Desai reminds his own students the importance of establishing routines, engaging in effective communication, promoting a positive mindset, and prioritizing mental health. These four practices are invaluable in alleviating that stress and maximizing success during the back-to-school period.

Think beyond the backpack:

1. No matter the age or grade of student according to Dr. Desai, “Routines are the foundation of success for students. Sleep is the great healer – establishing regular sleep schedules, mealtimes and homework routines can significantly enhance a student’s ability to learn and succeed.”

2. Consistent communication is another key element highlighted by Dr. Desai. “By giving your children your full attention, you can identify challenges and provide support where needed.”

3. Promote a positive mindset when preparing for school. “Encouraging children to plan and
embrace the challenges of learning new things can build resilience and a love for learning,” he explained. This mindset can also help students approach other non-academic challenges with a little more confidence.

4. Mental health is also an important part of academic success. Dr. Desai emphasized, “Bullying has made prioritizing mental health crucial for students and their families. Establishing self-care routines, engaging in stress management techniques, and seeking help when needed are all essential.”

Dr. Desai’s insights provide a valuable roadmap for families preparing for the upcoming school year. By connecting with your children through open communication, you can more easily identify anything stressing them out during the year.  

Helping them understand why it is important to have healthy eating and sleeping habits will help their bodies and minds be as ready as possible to absorb new material.  As the back-to-school season approaches, you might try Dr. Desai’s recommendations to encourage a positive and successful start to the new academic year.

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