Get ready for Back To School

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How to get your children ready for school and make the transition easier on you and your family

With just days to go until the back-to-school routine kicks in for parents and students across the state, one doctor thinks he’s found the secret to making the transition from holiday to school just that much easier.

As a paediatrician who specialises in treating babies, children and teens, Dr Jason Yates at Townsville University Hospital says that now is the time to start getting your children in the right mindset for that first day back at class and, if acted on before day one, it will make life easier for everyone in the family.

Dr Yates is encouraging parents to return to a consistent bedtime, plan for healthy lunch boxes, and start a conversation with their Preppies about the start of school.

“Now is the time to start getting children back into the cycle of a routine bedtime, wake-up time, and mealtimes,” Dr Yates said. “The last few weeks have meant that, as parents, we are a bit more relaxed about routines, but I wouldn’t be waiting until the night before school starts to crack onto this.”

Screen time

Dr Yates said sleep was critical to a child’s health, along with their wellbeing and a designated bedtime for Preppies and primary-school aged children was essential.

“Prep children need at least 10 hours sleep a night so parents should be aiming for a 7.30pm to 8pm bedtime,” he said. “The right amount of sleep helps children to concentrate, regulate their emotions, and lay down their memories.”

Dr Yates believes that devices and screens can hinder children from getting a good night’s sleep, and evidence has shown that devices are getting more attention than they should if you want your children to be attentive in class.

“On average, Australian children own 3.3 screen-based devices each,” he said. “iPads, smartphones, and smart TVs all emit a blue light which mimics sunlight.

“When children use devices before bed it interferes with the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, by tricking the pineal gland, which stores melatonin, into thinking it’s still daylight.

“To get around this, devices need to be put away at least two hours before bedtime so the release of melatonin can happen.”

Prep can be an emotional day for students as they make the transition from home life to school life, and parents can also get emotional as they say goodbye, and Dr Yates said preparing ‘Preppies’ for their first day of school should include conversations about school as a fun and safe place, along with working with them to plan a nutritious lunchbox.

Dr Jason Yates

“A sandwich, crackers or rice cakes, air-popped popcorn, fresh whole fruit, sliced veggies like carrots or capsicum, cheese, yoghurt, and tinned fruit in natural juice all work well in a lunchbox,” he said.

“Water is a much better option than fruit juice or cordial and better for children’s teeth.

“On that first day, it’s natural for parents to feel emotional on their child’s first day of school,” he said.

“But don’t linger over your goodbyes or come back for multiple hugs and kisses; your child will settle down much faster if you don’t prolong the inevitable.”

Find out more about sleep tips for children here: