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5 of the Best Back-to-School Tips for 2013
The end of a relaxing summer is hard enough to face without stressing about your kids' return to the classroom. These ideas for organization, healthy eating, academic success, and more will make the transition a whole lot smoother.
1. Choose brain food, not junk food
For a late-night healthy snack that kids can enjoy while doing their homework, frozen fruit can go a long way, says Dr. Lisa Young, an adjunct professor at New York University and nationally recognized portion-size expert. Freezing yogurt and any combination of fresh fruits on a Popsicle stick makes a delicious, wholesome treat, as does tossing fruit in a blender with skim milk for a creamy homemade smoothie. The fructose found in fruit is converted into the energy that kids need to keep turning the page. Spreading some protein-packed peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers is a nourishing alternative for kids who aren't so friendly with fruit just yet.
2. Create a home gallery
Back-to-school means back to receiving piles upon piles of artwork, graded tests, and school projects. Keep the clutter in check by displaying the pieces your kids are most proud of on a "gallery wall." Ruth Soukup, the blogger behind Living Well Spending Less and a mother of two, suggests hanging several cute picture frames on a large wall in the house and gluing clothespins to them, then inserting kids' accomplishments. Alternate what hangs on the wall to create your own unique, ever-changing art show. If you don't have a large empty wall—and we know you don't have enough space on the kitchen counter—take photos of the special projects they bring home and save them in a scrapbook, advises Sherrie Le Masurier, author of Organized Simplicity.
3. Get organized with apps
During this crazy-busy time of year, keep everything on the one device that follows you everywhere: your phone. For after-school sports management, try TeamSnap, which lets you track your children's game schedule, players' contact information, and team photos. To get some back-to-school shopping support, download ShopSavvy, an app that allows you to scan barcodes and compare prices among different stores. And finally, the most important part of back-to-school—your child's academics. Help them make studying less painful with flashcard-focused app Mental Case—they'll be much more enthusiastic about studying when a smartphone or tablet is involved.
4. Schedule playtime before homework time
You may have heard differently, but kids shouldn't be kept inside until they finish their math worksheets. Mom blogger Susan Carraretto recommends time for physical play first. "Kids need to get their energy out to get their brains active," she says. It's natural to want kids to start their homework as soon as they get off the bus for fear of procrastination, but that can actually give them more incentive not to do it when riled up. "It's also an opportunity for you to play with your kids, and show that you’re involved," Carraretto adds.
5. Let your kids know you're on the same team
From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Vine, it's hard to monitor your child's online presence without being a helicopter mom, which often results in your kids hiding their activity from you. Instead of letting them loose with your camera phone, give them photography "assignments," like shooting the pretty flowers in the backyard. If you make the Web a space for both of you, you increase the chances your child will be honest with you about what he or she is doing. In fact, a new Brigham Young University study found that families who friend each other on Facebook are more likely to feel closer in real life, as it gives parents a more intimate look into the life of their kids. Researchers warn to do so in moderation, however, and keep the embarrassing photos and snide comments to a minimum.