Successful School Start
Back to school for many children means new shoes, new backpacks filled with school supplies, and lots of memories waiting to be created. I remember as a child wandering the aisles of my local supply store excitedly choosing new supplies. I always wanted the 64 ct. crayon box with the built in sharpener and the “click down” pens with all the different colors.
As a mother of two school aged children, I am now faced with the task of providing my children with the necessary tools to create a successful start to the school year. Here are some ideas to think about as you are getting your children ready for the new school year.
1. ROUTINES AND RITUALS: Setting up routines and expectations is so important. Does your child have a special location at home to store his/her backpack? A designated workspace for completing homework? A set time to complete homework? Establishing a system really helps to reduce anxiety.
2. BINDER BUDDIES: Let’s be real…kids collect so many papers throughout the year. Why not purchase a binder to save favorite work? This way, at the end of the school year, you aren’t left with a pile of papers but rather a binder full of hard-work and memories. Skip the plastic binders made with PVC or vinyl, and look for binders made of paperboard or recycled binders.
3. ACHY BACK: Did you know…According to the National Safety Council, a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 20% of his/her body weight. Be sure to read the backpack labels carefully. Vinyl or PVC backpacks may contain hormone disrupting ingredients such as phthalates or lead. Opt for backpacks made with cotton, linen, canvas, or synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.
4. SKIP THE SCENTS: Kids may beg…but skip the scented markers and other “fun” smelling school supplies. These “kid-friendly” fragrances may contain phthalates and other harmful chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors.
5. THE ABCs OF HANDWASHING: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), washing hands with plain soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitizers, while they may be convenient, may eliminate good bacteria and increase the rise of more resistant bacteria.
6. MEALTIME: Did you know that plastic lunch boxes and water bottles may contain a hormone-disrupting chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA)? Opt for a safer alternative by using recycled paper bags or stainless steel “bento box” style lunch boxes and stainless steel water bottles.
7. FOOD SAFETY: Move over bacteria…hello ice pack. A frozen juice box or water bottle make the perfect “ice pack” and by snack/lunch time, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
For additional tips, refer to the EWG Green Back to School Guide for K-12.
In Dr. Seuss spirit…always remember, our children are off to great places, they’re off and away. They have brains in their head, feet in their shoes, and now a backpack filled with safer supplies to lead them in any direction they choose!
Originally featured in September 2016, North Caldwell Magazine.