Most of us dread the back-to-school routine, even though we welcome its familiar pace after we’re in it. Take time to prepare now and get back into the swing of school with ease. And remember, healthy students are better learners.

Start now to be ready.

Eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise can help students do their best.

Slowly move bedtimes back. We all tend to veer off regular bedtime schedules during the summer. A couple of weeks before school starts, begin pushing bedtimes back by 15 minutes each night. If meal times or other routines have changed, reset those too.
Encourage kids to eat right. Healthy breakfasts and lunches help students be more alert. Help kids pack lunches or make healthy choices at the cafeteria, and limit junk food. AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia (DC) members can take healthy cooking classes at no cost at our Member Wellness Center. To see our monthly schedule, visit
Keep reading all summer. Let kids choose what they like to read. Comic books, catalogs, and magazines all count. Children and adults in the District can earn prizes for reading through the D.C. Public Library Summer Challenge. Learn more at
Research and talk about after-school activities. You can narrow the choices down to one or two that your child will enjoy. Make sure your child has time for homework and personal time.

Help children with school-related concerns and stress.

Helping your kids with school is one of your most important jobs as a parent.

Teach them study skills. Make sure your child has a quiet place with plenty of light to study. Many parents set a time each day for homework. Pay bills, read, or do other “homework” at the same time your child does schoolwork. This shows kids how the skills they are learning in school are applied to real life.
Help kids get organized. Teach them how to plan a schedule, make to-do lists, and set goals and deadlines for projects. You can help your child learn how to break large tasks into smaller ones.
Support a healthy school-life balance. Make sure homework and study time are not too stressful or overwhelming. Personal time, time with friends, and extracurricular activities are important for children too.
Be ready to help with any challenges. Talk with your kids if they are having anxiety or concerns about school, classmates, or teachers. If your child has an issue, you might want to meet with an administrator or school counselor to learn more and help find a solution.

Stay connected to your kids by talking with them every day about their experiences in and out of school. Expect them to do their best so they can be proud of themselves. Ask open-ended questions and listen. Car trips are a good time to fit in these important talks.

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#BestMe Corner

#BestMe is a campaign created by AmeriHealth Caritas DC all about being the best you possible.

Five Tips for a Stress-Free Morning

Your morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. Weekday mornings can be challenging with the added stress of getting your child ready for school and making sure they arrive on time. Start your day off right with these ideas:

Think of something you’re grateful for as soon as you open your eyes. It can be different each day or the same.
Smile and laugh. We hold a lot of stress in our faces. A laugh or smile can help release some of that tension.
Breathe. Take a few slow, deep breaths as you move about in the morning. This calms and grounds you.
Listen. Research says music can help with stress, so use it to start your day! The sounds of nature have also been shown to relieve stress.
Meditate. Meditating, being mindful, or saying a prayer during the first few minutes of your day can instantly help your mind and body relax and focus.

“Back to School” and “Head Back to School Safer and Healthier this Year!,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed June 12, 2018,

“Back to School,” U.S. Department of Education, accessed June 9, 2018,

“Five Tips to Help Manage Stress,” American Psychological Association, accessed June 12, 2018,

All images are used under license for illustrative purposes only. Any individual depicted is a model.


Back-to-school checklist

  • Schedule a yearly well visit for your child. Make sure your child has eye and dental exams. These are provided at no cost to AmeriHealth Caritas DC members under age 21.
  • Make sure your child is up to date on vaccines
  • Help kids make healthy food choices
  • Help kids stay active and ready to learn
  • Learn how to get kids to school safely

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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