Prepare your kids for back to school

We tell you everything you need to know about the secrets to happier school days ahead

Education

School is almost here and we’re ready for it. Well, sort of. The days of standard backpacks, worn-out pencil cases and cheese sandwiches are long gone. For today’s kids, school is their playground. They take everything from homework assignments and essay tests to funky erasers and even eyeglass frames very seriously, so mum and dad must keep up. We’ve done the research on everything you, and the kids, need to know – because classroom daydreaming is so last year. It’s time to focus, plan ahead and make this school year the best one yet.

First things first, the food
There are many resources out there on healthy eating. Parents may know the basics, but lunchbox experts at Yum by Mum, a service that creates meal plans for kids, have got the lowdown on how kids should be eating while school is in session.

Carla Lewis, proud mummy and Yum by Mum founder, gives us top five tips to keep in mind when preparing the kids’ lunchbox.

1. Getting variety in your little ones’ diet is essential to ensure that they get a range of nutrients from different sources such as vegetables, protein and fat which are imperative for growth.

2. Complex carbs are an important part of their diet to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Ideal choices such as oats and wholewheat pasta are packed full of fibre and vitamin B as opposed to white pasta.

3. If you have a picky toddler or an older child who doesn’t like the “green bits”, vegetables such as cauliflower and spinach can be puréed into sauces to add more nutrients without the kids even knowing it.

4. Three healthy meals and two snacks every day will help little ones stay alert throughout the day.

5. Lastly, hydrate. Make sure your kids drink plenty of water and try to keep juices to the occasional treat time.

Dressed to impress
School uniforms are usually quite expensive and so is the sportswear, so it’s a good idea to try and care for these garments as much as possible. Diana Hamadallah, managing director at D4Designs uniform suppliers, tells us more about handling school attire.

1. Read and understand care instruction labels: All garments come with care label tags with detailed instructions specific to the garment. Always follow these instructions to maximise the life of the garment as much as possible. 

2. Wash similar fabrics/colours together: Remember, colour fastness varies according to the type of fabric and mixing different fabrics in same load may cause bleeding. The same goes for mixing dark and light colours in the same wash load.

3. Wash clothes inside out, especially knits and dark colours. Washing inside out will help reduce pilling and maintain colour. 

4. Wash at the recommended temperature. Check the care label and follow the indicated temperature. Rule of thumb: never wash any item at a temperature higher than 40°C to avoid shrinkage.

5. Use the right detergents. Whites and dark colours shouldn’t be washed with the same substance. Most washing powders in the market contain bleach and should only be used on pure whites to avoid loss of colour.

6. Use the right quantity of detergent and follow package instructions carefully to avoid colour fading.

7. Never use bleach to remove a stain as it can spread across knit garments and fade adjacent colours. It also deteriorates the fabric itself and alters its feel and performance.
  
8. Most machines nowadays have very high spin cycles, which is very damaging to garments as it can cause loss of elasticity and pilling. Never use a spin cycle higher than 600 rpm.

9. Line dry all school uniform items and avoid the dryer. Before line drying the garment, straighten it out as much as you can (pulling it with your hands), so there are less wrinkles later.
  
10. Clothing that includes screen-printed logos should be ironed before washing for the first time. This will help set the logo in place, making it last longer. Always iron garments with prints inside out and avoid using an extremely hot iron.

Clean and healthy
The summer holidays are tons of fun: kids get to attend summer camps, stay up late and spend more time with family, but all of the play involved can take a toll on kiddies’ hair and skin. A little damage, or a lot, to either of these can lead to a scruffy look – so not appropriate for school. Tanned, acne-prone skin and dry, lustreless hair may go hand in hand with a summer spent on long stretches of sandy beaches, but damage control is the only way to go before school starts.

Tweens and teenagers, watch out. Skin and hair go through a lot of changes due to fluctuating hormones, especially between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. Skincare experts at Himalaya say that, while most teenagers suffer from acne ranging from severe to mild, others have to deal with excessively dry, frizzy and unmanageable hair. The school year will arrive soon with its fair share of stressful times, which means more damage control will be required too.

Skin Care
Combat tanning

The summer months are most likely to have tanned the kids’ skin. Even if they never left the house without wearing a sunscreen, tanning is natural and inevitable, leaving them with dry, unevenly textured skin.

This is the time to bring out those tan removal masks and scrubs, especially ones which are infused with natural ingredients such as orange peel, honey and milk. Have fun with the kids making a face mask.

Fight acne
The sun, sweating and excessive sebum secretions from oil glands will cause blocked pores, blackheads and whiteheads, which eventually lead to acne. The best way to ensure the kids get to school with a clear, fresher-looking face is by following a regular cleansing routine using products which are suited for their skin type.

Cleansing helps clear and open pores, and should always be followed up with moisturiser. If the kids have naturally oily skin, make sure they use an oil-free product. This will help keep their skin healthy. Avoid scrubbing skin with harsh products as this will only make acne and blemishes worse.

Use natural products
You don’t want chemicals on your kids’ skin and nature has given us some wonderful natural herbs which treat skin rashes, acne, allergies and pimples. Did you know that turmeric can help acne and scars?

Eat right
Your kids most likely spent the last month gorging on junk food and now is a good time to return to a normal healthy diet. Avoid oily, sugary and fatty foods and opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and proteins instead.

Also, help them regulate their water intake as it plays a major role in washing away toxins and combating oil secretions.

Hair Care
Avoid styling products

The back-to-school countdown is the best time to work on any hair woes. You can start by avoiding using any hair styling tools or products such as hair irons, gels, etc. Well, maybe for the first day of school only.

Condition their hair
Many kids have frizzy, unruly hair and it can be a result of accumulated dirt and particles. Wash their hair regularly as sweating during the summer months causes dandruff and an itchy scalp, leading to hair fall.

Kids can wash their hair every two to three days to ensure the proper regulation of natural oils. Avoid hot water showers as they make hair dry and brittle. Turn that water heater off.

Maintain a healthy diet
Kids will try to grab onto whatever food is available when they’re hungry, so make sure there are healthy snacks on hand at all times as what they eat will affect their hair.

Maintain a healthy, balanced diet filled with a good mix of vitamin C, which is mostly found in citrus fruits, proteins including eggs and chicken, omega-3 fatty acids including quinoa, nuts and seeds, iron, which is found in dark leafy greens like spinach, and vitamin A, mainly found in carrots.

Getting there
When it comes to your kids’ safety on the school bus, there are many factors you need to consider. A concept which is largely ignored by many parents, Neetu Deshwal, marketing and communications manager at School Transport Services (STS), says that understanding the importance of road safety and the impact it has on our society is crucial.

“Please take some time during the summer to educate yourselves and your kids on the best safety practices. We must all commit to safety on the school bus and promote these benefits so that our children are motivated to adopt, share and live by these golden rules every day when travelling,” says Deshwal.

Here are some golden rules for a safe trip to school:

* Before getting on the bus, avoid the danger zone area which surrounds all sides of the vehicle.

*  Maintain a distance of at least ten steps from the bus, where the driver can see easily you.

* Make sure the road is clear before crossing, if you need to.

* Be ready and on time for your trip.

* Don’t stand on the road while waiting for the school bus.

* Never talk to strangers.

* Only travel on your designated bus.

* Scan your ID card before boarding and leaving the bus.

* Sit facing forward at all times.

* Remain seated in your designated seat.

* Wear your seatbelt correctly for the entire bus journey.

* Keep the aisle and walkway clear at all times, no exception.

* Be courteous and follow the bus attendant and driver’s instructions.          

The kids may have had a good time over the summer, but coming back to school need not be a burden. There are a lot of friendships and tons of learning ahead to look forward to and we hope the kids – and Mum and Dad – are now ready to excitedly take it all on.

Back-to-school dos and don’ts for parents
Dos
* Prepare lunches and snacks at the beginning of every week.

* Get some good sleep as your kids will need your full attention.

* Pre-pack school bags and after-school activity essentials.

* Tackle school paperwork as you receive it.

* Set up a homework station to avoid distractions and dodging strategies.

* Make your kids feel like you're in the picture and always there for them.

Don’ts
* Avoid buying school supplies you don't need.

* No need to stress about making gourmet meals, keep it simple.

* Never dismiss any concerns your child may have over school.

* Don't pressure your child into making new friends.

* Saying anything bad about teachers will only make it worse.

* Forget stress, the school year should be fun for you and the kids.

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