It’s THAT time of year, parents, when we simultaneously breathe a sigh of relief and furrow our brows in anxious anticipation of the structure that the school year will impose on us and our little Darlings. There’s so much to do before their first big day of school, so we at Gululu have put together a list of Back to School Essentials to help the school year to begin smoothly. We know that you know where to get their pencils and paper by now, so we thought we would make a list of the more easily-overlooked things that they will need to succeed from the moment they step through the front doors. A great “Hello!” – First impressions last, so it’s best to teach our kids how to make a great one, and it all begins with “hello”. It sounds so simple, but it’s more difficult than it seems for a young person to stand tall, look into another’s eyes, smile, and muster up enough breath for a warm and confident greeting. Heck, it’s even hard for me to do this sometimes! Practice makes perfect, so don’t be shy to “hello!” back and forth at the breakfast table or on the way to school. You will also want to teach your kids what kind of greetings are appropriate for which situations, as certain occasions will call for them to address adults using the proper title, and, depending on your child’s age, a hand shake may be appropriate as well. Taken all together, a proper greeting can go a long way to making a great first and lasting impression. Here’s an old 1960’s classic clip teaching greetings and introductions that is still relevant today (minus a few of the dated and amusing expressions). Your kids will get a kick out of watching what was part of their grandparents’ curriculum! Open Hearts and Minds–Though it may be human nature to form small groups and exclude others in some situations, we parents should give our kids the gifts of open hearts and minds by teaching them tolerance and inclusion of those who are different from themselves. These are skills are often difficult to learn, especially if a child does not feel confident in him/herself, so we parents must do all we can to support our children’s self-esteem. Only when they love themselves can they then reach out to love others. It is important that we reinforce these values repeatedly, and keep an open conversation with our kids about how to help create an environment of inclusion in their schools. Most schools are developing anti-bullying curricula and policies, and it is best to find out what they are teaching so that you can give consistent messaging. Contact your school for details, or refer to the websites here (A, B, C) for more information. As Helen Keller said, “the highest result of education is tolerance.” Nature’s Candy and Whole Grain Goodness – As hard as parents and schools try to limit kids’ access to super sugary and low-nutrient foods, kids can still get a hold of them pretty easily. It’s our job as parents to educate our kids about the importance of choosing healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, otherwise known as “nature’s candy”, and products made with whole grains. Not only will their blood sugar be more stable, and as a result their attention spans and energy levels, but their long-term brain and body development will benefit from all of the vitamins and minerals in the nutrient-dense foods. It may be difficult to say no completely to tempting treats, so learning moderation is a valuable life and social skill. Eatright.org recommends some fabulous apps to help teach kids healthy eating habits in a fun way. H – 2 – Oh! Water in the body is like the grease on a bicycle chain—without it the gears just don’t turn as smoothly. Keep your kids’ brains and bodies functioning optimally by sending them to school with their favorite water bottle, full of good and pure water. Gululu Interactive Bottle is a great option that will motivate them, and others around them, to drink water regularly, and to choose water over sugary beverages. Gululu will delight and inspire your children to develop healthy habits that last beyond the school day. You can learn more and purchase your Gululu here! For best results, keep the conversations about healthy habits going throughout the year. Good luck to all of the families who will soon begin another great school adventure! Written by Sarah Northrop, Strategy & Digital Communications Consultant and Pilot User for Gululu. Sarah is a Physical Therapist and wordsmith working on her MBA who has two daughters that inspire her to spread healthy habits as far and wide as possible. They are all currently traveling across the US in a minivan from California to New Hampshire, hitting as many national parks, and seeing as many friends & family members as they can along the way before the first day of school begins. And, of course, they bring their Gululus wherever they go!