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Get students off to a good start

It’s that time of year so dreaded by kids, but loved by parents. School’s back in session, and what better time to start the year off with good practices? As parents, we all want our kids to succeed in all they do and to have it better then we. So let’s look at ways to arm our kids to be happy and successful students.

I know my teen developed the usual bad habit of staying up late and sleeping in this summer and that’s a hard habit to break when school is back in session. It is suggested that children up to 12 years of age get about 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night and teens need about eight to nine hours. Sleep is like food for the brain and our brains perform important functions during sleep. A student who is sleep deprived does not learn effectively, may be moody and uncooperative, and may crave unhealthy foods high in caffeine and fats. A parent enforced bed time is an important factor in student success and what better time to start or “start back”, than the beginning of the school year?

While we are on the subject of sleeping, here are some good tips on improving your night’s sleep. People sleep better and have deeper REM cycles, the deepest and most beneficial stage of sleep, in a dark room with no distractions from televisions and other electronic devices. This tip applies to all people, so pull those curtains and turn off the television and computer. Even a bright alarm clock display can be detrimental to good sleep. A light and healthy snack about one hour prior to bedtime can also promote good sleep. So have a graham cracker with peanut butter, bowl of cereal, or a piece of fruit as a snack to keep hunger pains from affecting your sleep.

Ok, let’s talk about breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, and unfortunately, the most skipped meal of the day. Allowing your child to skip breakfast can be extremely harmful to their health and their ability to learn in the classroom. Schedule wake up times early enough to allow children a few calm minutes to eat breakfast and get themselves physically and mentally prepared for their day.

This time of year also marks an end to the lazy days of summer and the start of hectic school year schedules, but don’t forget to take the time to talk to your kids regularly. The family unit is the rock and foundation of a healthy and happy child. Always let your children know that you are there for them to talk and discuss their feelings about things that make them happy and also things troubling them. Kids who don’t feel accepted and understood at home will turn to others for acceptance and understanding.

Let’s use the milestone of a new school year to instill healthy and happy habits for our children and families and watch them blossom.

For more information, please contact Suzanne Williams, FACS Agent at the University of Georgia, Dougherty County Cooperative Extension office at 229-436-7216.