How to get your kids mentally, physically prepared for school

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 15 at 6:01 PM

AUSTIN -- As summer vacation comes to a close, families are getting into the back-to-school spirit.

Experts say preparing your child to head back to class is more than just buying school supplies and clothes. Kids need physical and mental preparation as well.

Jim McIntire is ready to get his kids back in the classroom.

“The boys are a little excited about going back to school,” McIntire said.

His nine-year-old son, Ian, disagrees.

“No I do not want to go back to school,” the fourth grader said. “I’m going to see some new people that I've never seen and, umm, and make new friends I guess.”

Mom Tiffany Johnson is counting the days until school starts.

“I'm excited for them to get back into a routine, and see their friends on a regular basis, and learn new things,” she said.

Her son Jake knows what he'll miss most.

“No more sleeping in,” he said.

Tracy Lunoff with the Austin School District's Health Services Department says now is the time to get kids physically prepared. One of the most important things is to get back on an early bedtime schedule.

“Definitely start rolling back the bedtime now so it's not such a transition or a fight for parents during those first couple of weeks back to school,” Lunoff said.

Younger students need eight to 12 hours of sleep a night. Older students should get at least eight.

Another tip to consider -- Summer may have been filled with fun and junk food, but now is the time to start making healthier eating choices. Adjust your child's schedule so they get used to eating breakfast and lunch at the same time they would during the school year.

“You're not going to be hungry. You're not going to feel sluggish. You and I both know when we eat better, we feel better,” Lunoff said.

Experts say you'll want to make sure your child is mentally prepared as well. 

“Just talking to the littles about what to expect, it's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting. They're going to make new friends,” Lunoff said. “So it's really important to talk to the children about what their concerns are.”

The first day of school in the Austin Independent School District is August 26. That's the first day for Round Rock, Leander and Del Valle as well.

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