As the summer holidays come to a close, thoughts turn to the school year ahead,  there are supplies to buy, lunches to make, as well as uniforms, friends and routines all jumbled in a huge mix of emotions, especially if it means a new school or starting school for the first time.

Shopping for supplies

  • Before you go shopping, take a home inventory. Have your kids try on last year’s uniforms and shoes and search the house for notebooks, rulers and calculators you have already.
  • Stick to the supply list from the school to avoid over buying which will clutter up the house and get misplaced before they are needed.
  • Ask for practical Christmas gifts like a lunchbox and drink bottle set. In a sea of conformity the lunch box offers the perfect platform to reflect your child’s unique personality. Ordering personalised items will avoid it being easily lost and the need for labelling.
  • Check with friends and family for any hand-me-down uniforms. Or if the school has a second hand uniform shop.
  • Buy a good quality backpack that will last. Get one big enough to fit their lunch box, jacket and homework so they don’t need to carry things and ensure the straps are padded for comfort and support.
  • Label, label, label. There are loads of websites that sell personalised labels including iron-on and stickers, even labels for inside shoes.
  • Start early. Leaving your shopping until the week before school returns means slim pickings on the shelves.

 

Tick, tock, setting the body clock

  • If your child has been staying up late over the holidays try moving bedtime back 20 minutes every few days and rousing them at the time they’ll need to get up for school.
  • Give some incentive such as reading a book before bed or a fun morning activity like enjoying breakfast together so your child sees early bedtime and early rising as good for them, rather than punishment.
  • Setting up a night time and morning routine will give structure and reduce anxiety.
  • There may be heightened excitement the night before school starts that makes settling for bed a little harder. Don’t force it. It’s not a big deal for one night.

 

Fuel for learning

  • Mix up your child’s lunchbox menu by using Lebanese bread, bagels, pancakes, wraps, rice cakes, English muffins or cracker biscuits with a mix of nutritious fillings instead of plain bread.
  • Let them build their own sandwich with a selection of fillings such as a sliced boiled egg, some lettuce leaves, sliced tomato and cucumber, cold meat, grated carrot and cheese or cream cheese. Or they could opt to eat it as finger foods.
  • Roast chicken, pasta salad, quiche, pizza slices and sausages are just a few examples of things that are delicious cold for lunch.
  • Tuna and baked beans come in tins small enough to slide into lunch boxes and can be added to salads or eaten on their own.
  • A thermos is a great lunchtime accessory that can be filled with left over pasta, fried rice or soup.
  • If your child won’t budge from eating sandwiches introduce some different fillings such as banana, cinnamon and honey; curried egg; ham and chutney or cheese and tomato.
  • Or simply try cutting their sandwich with a cookie cutter. There are a number of specialised sandwich cutters available, from puzzle pieces to trains and flowers.

 

Off to a good start

  • If your child is anxious about the first day of school remind them there are probably lots of kids feeling uneasy about it too. Point out the positives such as seeing old friends and meeting new ones and the fun memories from previous years.
  • Find another child living close by to walk or ride to school together.
  • If it is a new school, attend any available orientations and tour the school before the first day.

 

Good homework habits

  • Homework can begin as young as pre-primary so having the right attitude and access to an environment conducive to study is essential for all school aged children.
  • Create a work space that is quiet, without distractions and promotes learning.
  • Establish a schedule for study and rules about the TV and other electronic distractions during that time.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, without doing the work for them.
  • If there are difficulties with the homework, discuss it with the teacher.

 

Head lice patrol

  • Nit diagnoses tend to peak at back to school time with an estimated 20 per cent of primary aged children carrying head lice at any one time.
  • Regularly check your child’s hair and treat as necessary
  • Tie back or braid long hair
  • Keep a treatment and a head lice comb on hand for when the inevitable happens.Are you scratching your head yet?

 

Creating memories and traditions

  • Take a photograph on the first day of school each year. A great idea is adding a sign with the grade they are entering or pose them in the same spot every year to show the progression over time.
  • A back to school breakfast of the child’s choice (or dinner the night before) brings the family together and makes it a memorable celebration.
  • Get the kids to help bake something yummy the day before returning to school so when they look in their lunchbox on that first day they not only get a special treat but a sense of comfort from home.
  • Reading an inspiring book the night before heading back to school can give your child the right attitude to tackle the challenges of a new school year.

 

Atkins Low-Carb Spring Pea and Mint Salad with Chargrilled Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 400g chicken breast or thigh sliced
  • 28g feta cheese      
  • 250 grams snow peas              
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed          
  • 2 cups baby spinach                 
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint     
  • ¼ cup olive oil                           
  • ¼ tsp salt                                           
  • ¼ tsp pepper                              
  • ¼ tsp paprika

 

Method:

Mix 1/2 tbsp of olive oil with the paprika, and a quarter each of the salt and pepper. Brush mixture evenly onto chicken strips. Place chicken on a preheated barbeque or chargrill pan, allowing sufficient room for each chicken slice and cook until crispy. For best results avoid pressing down on chicken pieces.

In a jar or similar, combine remaining olive oil with garlic and remaining salt and pepper. Seal jar and shake vigorously. Place to the side to allow for infusion.

Prepare a pot of boiling water, once boiling add in snow peas and blanch for around two minutes. Remove snow peas from water, and in a serving bowl combine with baby spinach, mint and chargrilled chicken. Pour over oil mixture and stir through. Crumble feta over the top. Serve and enjoy.

Serves 4, 6.25 grams of carbohydrates per serve.

Crispy sesame salmon with warm Mediterranean bean salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 Atlantic salmon steaks
  • 28g feta cheese
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 200 grams green beans
  • ½ brown onion, thinly sliced
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 clove crushed garlic

 

Method:

Place a frypan on the stove top at high heat, once heated ass half the knob of butter and place in salmon steaks skin side down. Allow salmon to cook almost half way up, remove salmon from pan, add the remaining butter, and then place salon back into the pan, flesh side down. Leave on the heat until the outside appears cooked. Whilst salmon is cooking, prepare a saucepan, and sauté onion and garlic over high heat until it starts to darken.

Prepare a pot of boiling water, once boiling add in green beans and blanch for around three minutes. Remove from water. In a bowl, combine green beans with onion mixture, feta and semi sundried tomatoes.

Combine olive oil, sesame seeds, minced ginger, soy sauce and white vinegar into a small jug and stir well.

Plate up salmon with a side of the warm bean salad, and evenly pour sesame dressing over both the salmon and the salad.

Serves 4, 7.5 grams of carbs per serve

About Atkins

Scientifically formulated for safe and effective weight loss, weight management and healthy lifelong eating, Atkins is an easy to follow, flexible four-phased program (start at the phase that best suits you) that helps you build a diet around whole foods rich in vitamins and ‘good carbohydrates’ including low sugar fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, good fats, and protein (fish, poultry, meat and tofu) – while at the same time helping you eliminate  highly processed carbs such as white flour and sugar. For further information or more carbohydrate-controlled recipe ideas, visit atkins.com

Author

Nutritionist Colette Heimowitz, for Atkins Nutritionals

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