MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Aug 15, 2011) - (Family Features) The transition from summer to school can be tough for kids and parents, but getting the school year off to a good start can build your child's confidence, boost their attitude and improve their academic performance throughout the entire year.

Thirty-year occupational therapist Nancy Lawton-Shirley knows there's an effective combination needed to set kids up for success.

"Even kids who know what to expect can experience anxiety," says Lawton-Shirley. "There are more after-school activities, and of course the social and academic pressures associated with school." Lawton-Shirley suggests the following tips as a way to help kids refocus this fall:

Sleep well, eat well.
During the school year, it's important to set a nightly routine without too much disruption over the weekend. Explain to your child the reason for doing this -- so they don't get over-tired or overwhelmed by school and after-school activities. Similarly, sustain a mealtime routine, especially eating a healthy breakfast. You may want to try to include more protein in the morning and carbohydrates in the evening -- it really makes a difference. A good night's sleep and well-balanced eating habits are proven effective ways to set a good foundation for the day.

Get organized.
Review the materials sent by the school. Share information with your child such as their teacher's name, school supply requirements, sign-ups for after-school activities, etc. Pick up your school supplies early and encourage your child to help with choosing them. Consider stocking up on supplies you'll need to replace throughout the academic year. All of this preparation will help you and your kids ease into the first week back... and beyond.

Set aside quiet time.
With homework and sports practices in full-swing, it's easy to get overloaded. Be sure to set aside quiet time and employ transitional tools. One such tool Lawton-Shirley uses is MeMoves, an interactive DVD program that helps calm and focus the mind and body. The person watching it mimics what they see on screen for a short, 3-minute sequence, transforming them from chaos to calm. "Teachers love to use it right after recess or other times when they need their students to calm down and concentrate," says Lawton-Shirley. "It's also a great tool to use at home." More at: www.thinkingmoves.com.

Get active.
While downtime is important, physical activity is crucial to a kid's ability to stay healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids who are active will have stronger muscles and bones, a leaner body, be less likely to become overweight, and will have a better outlook on life. Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges -- from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.

Nancy Lawton Shirley is an Occupational Therapist who speaks internationally. She is currently in private practice at Points of Stillness in Hudson, Wis.

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