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Beginning Strong: Back to School

Author: be well™ with Big Y® Registered Dietitian Team

Whether you’re a teacher, staff member, parent, student or none of the above, the end of the summer season and transition into fall feels like a return to school for many of us. As you pivot into a new schedule, keep in mind your health is imperative to sustain your energy and success.

Below are our recommendations for starting a new school year off strong. Good luck!


The number of hours you sleep will have the greatest impact on your mental health during this time. With the stressors of back-to-school shopping, end-of-summer vacations and house preparation for the school year, aim for at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. If your family wakes up earlier on school days, start transitioning sleep schedules a few weeks ahead of time.


Prepare Your Pantry

Stay focused and re-fueled with healthful, grab-and-go snacks. Fill your pantry with whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried and shelf-stable fruit and aseptically sealed milk, so nourishing snacks are only an arm’s length away when packing backpacks and sports bags. Wholesome snacks help maintain energy without causing the peaks and valleys seen in blood sugar when eating treats, while also providing servings toward daily Food Group goals.


Get Kids Cooking

Teaching children how to plan healthful snacks and meals is a life lesson that will prove a time saver for your family in years to come. Snacks could be something simple like a trail mix made from granola, nuts and dried fruit divided into individual portions. Dinner may include a salad whipped up from pre-washed, pre-cut veggies. Whichever skill level your youngster has, they can help and not only learn how to contribute but also develop self-esteem to build upon.


Learn All There Is

If your child doesn’t like team sports, find out what other after-school activities are available. Many schools offer social service, art, music and drama clubs for students in addition to sports. Also, if you are concerned about the health environment of your child’s school (e.g.: PE class, lunch menus, etc.), volunteer for, or create, a health committee. Your time and insight will provide the support schools tend to want and need.

Reviewed 7/28/2023