Dear CDA Families,
Back to school is a time of anticipation and excitement for students and parents. This year, in the midst of a pandemic, there are mixed feelings of uncertainty and nervousness as we navigate our new reality. As parents, we may be juggling work, daily home tasks, and now, distance learning.
For many parents, this has created new challenges and expectations for our children. It is important to help them do well in school by being flexible and helping them adjust to the new changes, which can also be used as opportunities to learn and grow.
By talking openly and honestly with your children about what to expect in this new reality and validating their feelings will help ease their worries and prepare them for a great start. You can implement the following back to school tips that can help them transition smoothly as well as ensure a successful academic year:
1. Set the Scene
If possible, create a designated area for your child to use during virtual class sessions and complete assignments. Since your child will spend a lot of time in this area, it should be a comfortable space that is quiet, has adequate light, and is free from distractions.
Also, think about personalizing their space with fun decorations, colors, and/or themes to encourage a positive and fun place to learn. Using the same workspace will help your child transition into “school mode” and establish a routine.
2. Set a Routine
It is important to create a daily routine that is easy for your child to follow. Plan ahead by preparing the night before with outfits, meals, and school supplies. This will help your mornings run smoothly. Include a routine to accommodate bathroom breaks, meals, and outside time.
Be sure to set a bedtime that provides children with plenty of sleep that will guarantee they will wake up with a positive outlook, refreshed, and ready for the day. Overall, setting a routine will help your child transition from one activity to another, as well as manage their attention span and concentration.
3. Get Organized
Having the essential school supplies ready and easily accessible to your child can avoid unnecessary disruptions. This will help your child be prepared and ready to learn. Contact your child’s teacher for a list of school supplies, websites, and additional materials needed for distance learning.
4. Healthy Eating and Exercise
Encourage your children to participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Children love to play and have fun outside. Include activities they enjoy, such as bike riding, playing hide-and-seek, and/or taking a walk with the family (of course, safely distancing) as ways to motivate them to stay active.
Provide well-balanced meals, snacks, and water to keep them hydrated throughout the day. Avoid junk foods and sugary drinks that can make them feel sluggish or with too much energy during instructional time.
5. Communicate with Your Child’s Teacher
Communication with your child’s school is critical for success during distance learning. Get to know your child’s teacher and have ongoing communication with them. This will help you feel more connected and show your child’s teacher that you are invested in their education.
It is also important to foster a relationship between your child and their teacher. Children are more willing to learn when they develop a positive relationship with them.
6. Fun Time!
On a weekly basis schedule simple and fun activities that you enjoy as a family. Listen to your children’s suggestions and incorporate them into the planning process to make them feel important, valued, and included.
Not only will you have fun spending quality time as a family, but you will also foster the relationship and deepen the bond between you and your child.
During this pandemic, we have learned that changes are not always easy, but sometimes necessary. Allow yourself and your child to feel proud as you navigate into distance learning. There may be times when things do not go as planned and that is okay. Always remind yourself and your child that you are doing your best and that is enough. We hope these tips are helpful to you and your child to have a great start and a successful school year.
Meal Prep 101 for Families
This month your children will likely be starting their new school year learning from home, a situation that many parents haven’t had to think about before. One important thing to keep in mind is snacks and mealtimes.
We all learn and focus better when we’re well-fed and making sure to have healthy foods prepped and ready for the week is a great way to make daytime meals and snacks quick and easy.
Here are some quick tips to help you be prepared:
- Make a weekly menu with favorite meals and include the ingredients on the menu.
- Create a regular, reusable shopping list from the menus you’ve created.
- Have healthy snacks ready-to-go and easily accessible for your kids, like fresh fruit bowls and yogurt, and fresh veggies and a healthy dip like hummus that they can grab themselves when hungry.
- Get your children involved with the prep work, let them help you with age-appropriate tasks.
1. Create a Schedule That Works for You
Count on about 2–3 hours for the prep, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once. For example, you can do 90 minutes on Sunday and 90 more on Wednesday night if you want. The most important thing is to schedule the time and stick to it so it becomes a habit. Scheduling meal prep for just after shopping is an easy way to go.
2. Have Your Equipment Ready
Before you do any chopping or cooking, take out all the equipment you need. For example, get your cutting boards on the counter, measuring cups, knives, bowls, baggies & storage containers. This way everything you need to use is handy and those few minutes of finding everything first saves lots of time compared to taking out equipment as you need it.
3. Whole Meal or Piecemeal
There are two main ways to do meal prep – either you create whole meals at once and put them in containers, or you focus on ingredients that can be thrown together quickly. With the latter approach, you focus on having ingredients ready when you’re ready to cook. When these components are stored in the fridge, meals usually take only 5–10 minutes to prepare.
4. Sauces Are Your Friends
Use sauces to mix it up. Curried chicken seems like a very different meal than chicken enchiladas, but the main ingredients are basically the same, only the sauce and preparation are different.
To keep things interesting, consider purchasing some different sauces to have on hand. Check the ingredients to make sure the sauces aren’t high in fat, sugar, salt, or preservatives.
5. Make it Fun!
When doing your meal prep, put on music or an old favorite movie and sing or listen along with something you love. Let your kids pick so they feel more involved & have more fun while they help you out.
6. Double Duty
Take advantage of leftovers. One easy way to cut down on meal prep is by increasing your dinner recipe and using some leftovers for lunch the next day.
7. Bundle in Batches
Make certain things ahead of time on your meal prep day.
Proteins: Roast, bake, or poach poultry, meat, or fish.
Produce: Steam or roast vegetables in a big batch, roast some veggies, and wash and chop raw fruits and vegetables for salads and snacking.
Grains: Simmer a big batch of rice that’ll feed you all week long. Other components: Make sauces, dressings, or dips, and any other items on your list.
8. Pack It Up
Pack food in clear containers so you can access them easily and know exactly how much you have. (Refrigerate cooked ingredients for use within 2 to 3 days; freeze the rest and thaw them later in the week) Divide single servings of finished dishes into individual containers for easy portion control.
Family Resources Specialist/Nutritionist