Make Going Back To School The Best It Can Be



There heeere ... School days are back. Or should that be school daze? Are you and your students ready?

Payson resident Julie Wantland has a son going into high school this week.


Many students feel nervous or even scared on the first day of school. To help battle the first-day "butterflies," Dr. Kim Rutherford suggests students bring a favorite pencil or wear a favorite shirt or pair of jeans.

"I'm not really ready. I think it's too early. And since he's going into high school, it's a little nerve wracking," she said. Asked how her son, Christopher, was faring, she said she thought he was a little nervous.

According to KidsHealth of the Nemours Foundation, a lot of children feel nervous or even scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school.

"Luckily, these ‘new' worries only stick around for a little while. You can beat the back-to-school blues by knowing what to expect," said Dr. Kim Rutherford of the foundation.

To help battle the "butterflies," Rutherford suggests students bring a favorite pencil or wear a special outfit on the first day.

"Lots of kids feel pressure to have a new outfit for the start of the school year, but the real trick is just to be comfortable," Rutherford said. "Wear your favorite pair of jeans or that T-shirt from vacation or sports camp. Every time you look down, it's sure to make you smile."

Whatever happens the first day, Rutherford said to remember that it is just one day, so if things don't go well, that is not something on which to base one's whole attitude about school.

"Teachers recommend giving things some time to sort themselves out -- once you know your way around and are used to the school-day routine, you'll probably feel better," he said.

Lisa Ralston's two children are ready to go back to school. She said she's not ready though.

"I haven't even gone school shopping yet," she said. Ralston's son, Joseph, is starting middle school. Her daughter, Ashley, will go into third grade on Thursday, July 31, when classes start in Payson.

Ralston said her son is very excited about the move and her daughter is excited because she really likes the teacher she will have.

According to KidsHealth, on the first day of school, most teachers start by introducing themselves and talking about what students will be doing during the year and they share the class rules, explaining what is allowed and what is not. Students should pay close attention to this part so they can learn if they must raise a hand to ask a question and if chewing gum in class is allowed. Some teachers might even have students introduce themselves to the class and tell a little about themselves.

If there is not a chance to introduce themselves to the whole class, students should try to say hello to both the kids they know and those who are new in class.

"Remember that it's a new year and that first impressions can last ... be friendly," Rutherford said. "Everyone's a little nervous and excited, so make the first move -- you'll be glad you did, and so will your new friend."

Tips for making school cool

Follow these tips to prepare the way for a successful first day, and all the days to come this school year:

  • Get enough sleep so you'll be able to stay awake in class
  • Eat a balanced breakfast to give you the energy you'll need
  • Try to go to school with a positive attitude every day
  • Give school your best effort
  • Develop good work habits -- write down your assignments when they are given by the teacher and turn in your homework on time
  • Take your time with assignments in and out of the classroom; if you don't understand something, ask the teacher
  • Keep a sense of humor.

Sleep on it, eat right and make it a great day

Youngsters between the ages of 5 and 12 need about eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, on average. Some need more, others may need less.

According to KidsHealth of The Nemours Foundation, parents can remind their children that sleep is giving the body a mini vacation.

"Not only is sleep necessary for the body, it's important for the brain too," said Dr. Kim Rutherford of KidsHealth. "No one is exactly sure what work the brain does when a person is asleep, but some scientists think sleep is the time when the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals and solves problems."

When the body does not have enough hours of rest, it could result in feelings of tiredness, crankiness and confusion.

"You might have a hard time following directions or you might have an argument with a friend over something really stupid," Rutherford said. "A school assignment that's normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favorite sport. So you can see why sleep is so important -- it helps you to be in top shape ...

"Some scientists think that sleep allows kids to grow as tall and as strong as possible," Rutherford added.

It has been said time and time again, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." And in talking about the "Kid's Breakfast Pyramid," on its website, the American Dietetic Association said it again.

"Not only is breakfast important, but ‘what' kids eat for breakfast may affect their ability to learn in school.

"Two recent studies conducted by Tufts University found that when children between the ages of 6-11 ate instant oatmeal for breakfast, as compared to eating a cold cereal or no breakfast, they did better on some tasks of attention and memory which are important for learning math and geography ..." according to the ADA. Scientists attribute these findings to oatmeal's whole grain, high fiber and protein makeup, which may help delay digestion and provide a steady supply of energy to the brain.

But just as it has been said again and again, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,' it is a fairly common fact of life that many mornings there just is not time for a complete, traditional breakfast. The following breakfast suggestions, from the ADA, take only one minute to make:

  • Fruit and Nut Oatmeal -- add dried cranberries and almonds to instant oatmeal and microwave for 60 seconds, following package instructions.
  • Blender Breakfast -- combine low fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana in a blender, mix for 30 seconds and drink with a whole-wheat bagel on the side.
  • Breakfast Taco -- sprinkle grated Monterey Jack cheese over a corn tortilla; fold in half; microwave for 20 seconds and top with salsa.

To see more about sleep, breakfast and children's health, visit and select from the menu choices to the left of the opening page or go to the ADA site at

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