Helping Children To Get Ready for School

Helping Children To Get Ready for School

Where does the time go? It seems just yesterday that students headed home after a school year extended by a winter of snow and ice to a summer filled with sun and fun. And now everywhere I turn, the stores are filled with reminders that it’s almost time to go “Back to School!”

At Inova Alexandria Hospital, our staff is collecting school supplies to help area children arrive at school in September prepared to hit the books. We’ve teamed up with Alexandria City Public Schools’ (ACPS) Family and Community Engagement Center and the non-profit Community Partners for Children for the 23rd annual ACPS School Supply Drive. This year, ACPS aims to provide 1,500 backpacks full of school supplies to students in need who would otherwise start the school year without the basic essentials.

Our staff has proudly donated to this cause now for 15 years. Last year we had the honorable distinction of having donated the most school supplies of any organization in our community! To meet this year’s goal, ACPS needs everyone’s help — yours, too. As you prepare your own children to go back to school, why not pick up a few extra supplies when you go shopping? You can drop them off at one of many locations throughout Alexandria by August 24. The list of needed supplies and drop-off locations is listed at

And with fewer than three weeks left before school, Dr. Samantha Ahdoot, secretary of Inova Alexandria’s Department of Pediatrics, offers these tips to help parents get their children ready:

  • Re-establish bedtime routines: One week before school, enforce earlier bedtimes and wake times to give children’s bodies time to readjust. Dr. Ahdoot says school-age children need about 10 and a half hours of sleep each night; teenagers need even more.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast: Focus on foods that promote energy from protein, like eggs, milk and yogurt, or offer low-calorie, low sugar options like whole-grain cereals or oatmeal with fruit.

  • Set limits on electronics/screens: Dr. Ahdoot doesn’t recommend taking away kids’ electronics; rather, parents should establish times when screens and electronics are and aren’t allowed. For example, no cell phones after 9 p.m.

  • Visit school: Attend a back-to-school orientation or schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher. This is especially important for children who might be anxious. Have your children visit the classroom or play on the playground to get acquainted with the school setting.

  • Go shopping: Take your children shopping for school supplies. They’ll be excited to choose their own items. Have them select extra items to donate for the ACPS school supplies drive.

  • Schedule a check-up: Are your child’s immunizations current? Does your child need a sports physical? Dr. Ahdoot says even though her practice, Pediatric Associates of Alexandria, is quite busy this time of year, parents can always schedule appointments for required immunizations with the nurse practitioner and follow-up with a full appointment at a later date if necessary.

And finally, the last tip is mine: Enjoy your remaining days of summer and stay healthy!