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Here is our guide to having a happy and healthy school year—not only for your child, but for you, the devoted parent or caregiver.

It’s that time of year again! Shopping for school supplies, picking a first day ‘fit—you know the drill. A new year brings new classes, teachers and friends.

So let’s get into it. Here are simple ways to support your child so that they can have a happy and healthy school year—both inside and outside of the classroom.

Help your child succeed in school

As a parent or caregiver, you play an important role in your child’s academic success.

Set up a homework routine

Establish a well-lit, comfortable and quiet area for your child to do their homework, without distractions like TVs or devices. Having a designated time and space for homework will help your child stay organized and enhance focus.

Maintain a healthy sleep schedule

A good night’s sleep is key to success at any age. By making sure your child gets the appropriate hours of sleep every night, you can send them to school well-rested and ready to learn. Recommended sleep hours for ages 3 to 5 is 10 to 13 hours; ages 6 to 12 is 9 to 12 hours; and ages 13 to 18 is 8 to 10 hours.

Talk to their teachers

Effective parent-teacher communication is important. Don’t hesitate to voice concerns, whether it’s about the amount of homework your child is bringing home or discussing your child’s learning or social-emotional needs.

Seek additional support

If your child is falling behind in the classroom, find out how your school can support your child. Under federal law, public schools are required to create an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for students eligible for special education services.

Nourish your child’s development

Eating a balanced diet is important regardless of your age. What we eat affects our brain function, focus and energy.

Pack a bento box for greater variety

Consider packing lunches in a bento box, which feature 4 to 5 compartments allowing for more variety in the meal. And they’re not only for the kiddos—adult bento boxes are very much a thing too. If your kids are older, get your teens involved in preparing their lunches so they can practice creativity and cooking skills.

Pack a variety of nutrient sources

Make sure your child is getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients like protein and a fresh element like a side of fruits and veggies. Eating a well-balanced lunch will keep them on the right track for the remainder of the school day.

Get creative with what you pack

There’s a lot that you can do with a packed lunch, but what’s important is what works for you and your child. You can start with a hearty base like rice, tortilla, bread, quinoa, pasta—whatever your child is into. Then add other elements to build up the nutritional content. It can be as simple as a quesadilla with cheese and diced vegetables. Cheese (depending on the type) provides protein, calcium, and vitamin D, and veggies provide a range of nutrients like potassium, fiber and folate, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Have a life outside of school

Getting a healthy dose of after school or weekend activities can further support your child’s development and build new skills.

Get hands-on with fun DIY projects

There are plenty of kids DIY projects to explore, depending on your child’s age and interests, from legos to robotics to wooden puzzles. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) building kits make great DIY projects too, and teaches your child skills beyond the classroom. Or inspire their artistic side with knitting, painting, sketching and more.

See what your local museums have to offer

Check out your local art and science museums to see if they offer after school or weekend programs for children and teens. Financial aid or scholarships may be available, so be sure to ask.

Sign up for a fun class or activity outside of school

From sports to the performing arts, STEM or scouting, there are a plenty of extracurricular activities for your child to take part in outside of the classroom. It’s a chance to learn new skills and have a community of peers beyond school.

Check out your local YMCA or community center

Check out your local YMCA or community center for after school or extracurricular activities. The YMCA operates in 10,000 communities across the U.S. and provides a variety of family support programming including child care, after school and sports activities for about the cost of a gym membership. Financial aid may be available, so find out if you are eligible.

Navigating school with a growing child can be equally challenging as it is rewarding. See what works for you and your child. As their parent or caregiver, you know your child best.

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