Nutrition and Tradition: Help for Transitioning Into a New School Year
No matter where your child falls on the “back-to-school excitement scale,” it can be hard to start a new routine after what is often a less structured summer. How can you help prepare them for the new school year and make sure they’re getting the most out of their learning experience? From helping them get organized to getting enough sleep and “powering down” two hours before bedtime (that’s right – it’s recommended to not use electronics for a couple of hours before you head off to sleep) – there are so many tips that will help your entire family make the transition from summertime to the school year. This article will focus on two of them — nutrition and traditions.
Good nutrition is critical not only for your child’s overall health, but for their energy and focus during the school day. Don’t let your kids skip breakfast in the morning rush as it really does set the tone for the entire day. A nutritious morning meal helps kids concentrate better in class and gives them energy for the rest of the day. Avoid sugary items – a donut is not a nutritional breakfast and will only leave them hyperactive and possibly lead to behavioral problems for the teacher to handle. A good breakfast doesn’t have to take long. Serve them fresh fruit, whole-grain cereals or yogurt. Or stop by Tropical Smoothie Café on your way to school. We serve healthy breakfasts like our Early Bird Wrap or Triple Berry Oat Smoothie beginning at 7:00am (and served all day long!).
Send a healthy lunch with them or look over the school lunch menu with your child (many schools post menus on their websites), and help them make nutritional choices. If pizza or chicken nuggets are being offered along with salads or vegetables, look up the nutritional value of each and help them see the differences. Together, come up with the benefits of eating healthy so your child will learn to make healthy eating choices that will stay with them for life.
If your child eats right during the day, they won’t be as likely to overeat at dinnertime. Be sure to offer a healthy after-school snack (peanut butter and apples or low-fat cottage cheese) so your kids don’t go too long between meals and get too hungry. That way, they’ll have the energy and focus to start their homework while you’re preparing dinner. Also, swap out the sugary sodas for water or a real fruit smoothie.
In the uncertainty of a new school, grade, schedule or friends, it helps kids to have something consistent to count on. The unknown can cause anxiety and avoidance, so having back-to-school rituals that carry over from year to year can ease some of the anxiety and give kids a set of expectations. Children like, need and want boundaries and guidelines – they feel better when they know what’s coming. Rituals and traditions help give them some expected structure to help offset the potential nervousness.
Traditions are shared experiences that strengthen family bonds, create lasting memories, give everyone a sense of belonging and give you the opportunity to have a conversation around how your child is feeling about the upcoming school year. When considering putting family traditions in place, remember they don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Think about your child and if they are excited about the school year or anxious about getting good grades or fitting in. What fun activity could you set in place to replace worry or fear with excited anticipation? Maybe have a school shopping day where you kid picks out a couple of new outfits or their own school supplies. Stop for lunch at Tropical Smoothie on your shopping day and talk about how a new school year means a clean slate with new opportunities to make new friends and get off to a fresh start academically.
Traditions can either evolve over time or be something you specifically determine to be a tradition. If you search the internet for “school year family traditions” you will find a lot of ideas to incorporate into your yearly routine. Here are a few to get you started:
- Mark the end of the summer:
- Take a final annual trip to an amusement park, the pool or another favorite spot.
- Have a family movie night or game night. Unplug from the computers and cell phones and enjoy each other’s company with a light comedy and popcorn or some board games.
- Camp out in your back yard. Tell stories, roast marshmallows, use flashlights and enjoy a night out under the stars.
- Do something for others as a family. Participate in some community service together like volunteering at a food bank or adopting a grandparent at a nearby nursing home. Tropical Smoothie Café is often sponsoring fundraising events. Look on our website for current events and come help us out.
- Getting ready for school:
- For parents facing the often agonizing prospect of sending their child off to kindergarten, do something special every day in the 12 days leading up to the first day of kindergarten. Activities can be as simple as a trip to the library or hiding a gift like a new school supply in her book bag every morning. This can be adapted for any grade level.
- Having just the right outfit on the first day of school can be important, especially for tween girls. So hold a fashion show where she can model her new outfits in front of the family. Let her know she looks great, and she’ll feel excited and confident.
- Arrange for a school visit if your child is feeling especially anxious. There might be an orientation day or most school principals will allow families to come in and check out their classrooms and common areas. As you take the tour, say as many positive things about the school as you can and assure you child that he’ll be fine.
- The day before school, spend time baking some (healthy oatmeal) cookies with your child. Make it a special time where you bake and talk about the school year. Then include a cookie in their lunch the next day, so the memory of the day before will be comforting and familiar.
- Start traditions around your weekly meals such as meatloaf Mondays or Tropical Smoothie Tuesdays.
- Some parents will write a note for the child to find on their first day of school. The letter might offerencouragement or point out specific things that make your proud. If you do this as an annual tradition, consider keeping a copy so you can compile every year’s letters from Kindergarten through High School as a special gift for college graduation.
Traditions provide time together that you’ll remember and cherish for years to come. Tropical Smoothie’s family would be honored if your family included us in your traditions. An after school smoothie would make for a very special tradition! And if you come frequently, use your VIP punch card to get your 9th smoothie for FREE!