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Off-to-School Health Special

Now's the time to...
Ease your child into her new sleep schedule.

"Kids can't just jump from a nine-thirty bedtime to eight o'clock," says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. To make the transition:

* Move bedtime and wake time up by 15 minutes starting two to three weeks before the first day of the new routine. Every few days, make them another 15 minutes earlier.

* Declare a ban on screen time for the hour before bed; cut out caffeine a few hours earlier. These changes will help her fall asleep faster.

School bus

Getting there

School-bus accidents actually are surprisingly rare. When they do happen, they're often in the first two months of the school year, when kids are anxious or excited, and less likely to be cautious when getting on or off the bus. All the more reason to teach your child these tips now:

  • Stand way back from the street at the bus stop.
  • Wait until the bus stops completely and the driver has opened the door before approaching the bus.
  • Use the handrail when getting on and off.
  • Cross in front of the bus, instead of behind it.
  • Take ten big steps away from the bus after getting off, and be sure the driver waves you across before crossing in front.
  • Don't stop to pick up stuff dropped near, under, or in front of the bus until the coast is clear.

Fact: Riding the bus is 12 times safer than walking, biking, or riding in a car to school

Marguerite Lamb, a mom of two, is back in school herself, working toward a nursing degree.