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Starting the Year Off Right

Starting the school year can be intimidating for even the most veteran of families. Here are four strategies for starting school on the right foot and making it a memorable and positive experience for you and your children:

*Establish bedtime routines, and then stick to them a week or two before school begins to get everybody in the routine. Pre-school children should receive 11-13 hours of sleep each night. Children between  5 and 12 years of age should sleep 10-12 hours nightly, while teenagers require about 9-10 hours.

*Make a family commitment to limit television and video games during the school week. Offer these as rewards or incentives to good behavior, good grades, good days at school. Sit down as a family either at dinner, or by setting aside 10-15 minutes after dinner to hear about your child’s day and take time to enjoy each other in a stress-free setting.

*Designate a homework center and place for backpacks and school supplies and stick with it for the entire year. Having a set place for school materials and backpacks helps to minimize lost or missing items (like homework). Let your children decorate the homework area, if desired.

*Limit children to no more than two extracurricular activities in the beginning of the school year. While it may seem like they are getting a diversified and well-rounded educational experience, kids who are involved in too many extra activities are over-extended and could face burn-out and stress.

*The evening before school, prepare for morning routines by selecting clothing, hair accessories, get backpacks ready and zipped, and prepare lunches or at least discuss what items will go in their lunches. After all children are awake, set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and challenge students to get dressed, brush their teeth and hair, and get into the family’s living area or dining room before the timer goes off. Offer an incentive to children who are struggling to finish in time.

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