Back to School — Healthy

Our staff came across the following information from Dr. Stuart Fischer about how to eat healthy as a family during the back-to-school season, especially when a parent is struggling with weight issues. 

school-luncha.jpgTell the Truth

Be a great role model and tell the truth. Sit the family down for a heart-to-heart talk where the overweight parent should freely admit to the child that they are not a healthy weight and that some of their food choices have not been ideal. The parent should offer hope on how they will make healthy changes together – letting the children see how their lives can improve as a result.
Discover Your Personal Myths
The biggest issue in the weight-loss process for the parents is addressing “personal myths” – the excuses that people give themselves to rationalize their behavior. Once the parent recognizes these are excuses, they can move on to make the right choices for their family.
Make a Plan
The next step is to make a plan, keeping in mind that losing weight is actually quite simple. Work off more calories than you eat. Set a realistic weight-loss goal (no more than 2 pounds per week). Make a plan on how to incorporate more exercise in everyone’s day-to-day routine. Exercising two to three times a week is ideal at the beginning.
Cook and Shop Together

As a family, figure out what and how much you want to eat per day for your first week, then crunch the numbers and come up with a menu. There are tons of great healthy recipes online. Go shopping with your child and explain what foods are healthy. Teach kids to avoid “empty calories,” high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional content such as soda, sugary desserts, fast food, or potato chips.
Act on Other Issues
Everyone overeats for different reasons. Identify some of the issues causing them to eat, and then take mini-steps to change their behavior.
Reward, Reward, Reward
As the weight starts to come off, reward yourself in ways OTHER than food. It could be a new lip gloss, haircut, tickets for a game or play, outfit, purse, backpack, etc. Reward frequently but not lightly. A great time for a smaller reward would be after two weeks if everyone has been sticking to the plan and are on track for their weight-loss goals.
This is a great time to focus on good health for your sake and that of your child.  A new study shows that overweight and obese students are performing worse in school than their physically fit counterparts, jeopardizing their professional future as well as their health. For more information on Dr. Fischer and the celebrity consultants, please go to

Hooray for You! by Donna J. Noble

Looking for a new tradition for the first day of school? Check out this idea submitted by ParentLife writer Donna Noble.

We have a back-to-school tradition in our family. It began the year my nephew Brian was in kindergarten. I am sure that my sister never anticipated on the day of the first-ever “Bus Party!” that the celebration would lead to another and yet another, until the wheels on the bus had gone around and around, carrying us 20 years down the road.

A Bus Party

schoolbus.jpgWhat is a bus party? It is simple. All you have to do is make a few treats and a pitcher of lemonade and, at the end of the school day, park yourself by the bus stop. When the bus comes into sight, you jump up and cheer in celebration of your child completing her first day of the school year

If all of this sounds a little funny, believe me, it is! You should see my sisters, my mom, and me each year! As we shout, “Hooray! It’s the bus party!” we get a few questioning looks from the bus driver. (Come to think of it, our kids have had a new bus driver every year. Is it possible that we scare them off?) Still, these incredulous bus drivers have never turned down the brownies we have offered them through the window.

Every year, our children know to expect this bus party silliness. Though the kids look a little sheepish as they descend the steps of the bus, try as they might, they cannot hold back their laughter. Once again, demonstrative affection triumphs over embarrassment.

The bus pulls away, but we stay and eat goodies. We talk about the day, about new teachers, and about our hopes for the year to come. Best of all, we share a very special bond.

Special Memories
Though every bus party is similar, each one is also unique. Sometimes we sing silly songs, read inspirational verses together, or simply reminisce about past bus parties.

One year, it rained so hard that only my 72-year-old mother and I were brave enough to dance around in the front yard. Everyone else waited under-roof for the guests of honor to arrive. When the bus finally came, the kids dashed straight past poor Grandma to the shelter of the barn where they joined their cousins and the faithful aunts for a great celebration.

Future Bus Parties

Once upon a time there were more little ones waiting on the blanket than riding the bus. Then there were more on the bus than on the blanket. Now our wonderful high schoolers would not miss celebrating their elementary school-aged cousins’ bus party days. The celebration continues for my children: the last two of the bus party of 12!

The Deeper Truth
One thing is for sure: The children in our family have gained the confidence to venture forth on their own because they know how much they are valued at home. And here is the icing on the bus party cake: Together we have experienced a sense of community that some people may never understand. Success calls for celebration … even if it is just an ordinary day, like the first day of school.

Donna J. Noble and her husband, Darrin, are co-founders of PineCross Ministries, LLP (, whose focus is hospitality and encouragement to families. She writes from PineCross Acres in Hartville, Ohio, where she and her family love to celebrate ordinary days.

Does your family have any back-to-school traditions? Leave us a comment and tell us about them!


Back to School

Have your kids gone back to school yet? Mine are 12 days away now. As I wrote in the August ParentLife "Parenting Matters," it seems like just yesterday our oldest, Jonathan, was starting kindergarten. Now he is a fifth grader, and our youngest, Christopher, is on his way to kindergarten!

school crossing.jpg

There are a lot of worries and fears about starting anything new — and kindergarten is a big deal! To help Christopher get ready for his first day of kindergarten, our school had a kindergarten camp. The kids got to meet their teachers, visit their new classrooms, play a few games, and even practice the afternoon hookup line. All of this was designed to cut down on first-day jitters, and I think it worked!

We have also gathered supplies like backpacks, lunch boxes, and clothes to start the school year off with excitement. We always have a routine of taking photos on the first morning of school that is a fun start to that first day.

Do you have a child starting school for the first time? Or do you have a sure fire way to cut down on first-day jitters? I would love to hear your ideas! Post a response so that other parents can read your ideas.

Read our August issue of ParentLife for all sorts of great back-to-school article and tips. Have a great beginning of the school year!

August Giveaway — Online Tutoring from Kaplan Learning

It’s hard to believe, but it’s August … and the kids are heading back to school! And back-to-school means back-to-homework struggles for many families.

70_KaplanTutoringLogo.pngThat’s where Kaplan Tutoring comes in. Kaplan Tutoring offers programs for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade to help them develop a love of learning. The program begins with an assessment that leads to a customized learning plan. Then Kaplan’s tutors use proven instructional methods to increase self-confidence.

Kaplan Tutoring uses a system called Smart Track that continually updates your child’s learning plan and adjusts to changing skill levels. As your child progresses, you will have access to real-time progress reports.

ParentLife is giving away two one-month memberships for the Kaplan Tutoring Online Program. Everyone* who posts a comment on our blog during the month of August will be entered to win.

For further information about Kaplan Tutoring, visit or call 1 (800) 497-2673.

*LifeWay employees are not eligible for this giveaway. Multiple comments do not increase chances of winning.