Your healthy back to school guide

Everything you need to know to tackle back to school anxiety, lunches, sleep habits, and after-school activities.

We’ve got the tools you need to ace the back to school race. Our comprehensive School Health web resource answers the top health questions of parents, teachers and school administrators. 

What’s really important to prepare your child for success at school is to make sure they are as healthy as possible when they sit down to learn. That means ensuring they are eating and sleeping well and are able to recharge after school in a healthy way to prepare for the next day.

It also means paying close attention to their mental health, helping them cope with any back-to-school anxiety and supporting teenagers to make good choices in high school when faced with relationship or peer pressure issues. And it includes taking preventative measures like immunization to ensure they are protected from communicable diseases in their classrooms.
Ready? Set? Back to school!

School anxiety in children

Coping with transitions: For some children, going back to school can spark anxiety. New schools, new teachers and classmates, and new expectations and routines are a lot to adjust to. Help your child cope with our tips on managing anxiety in children and youth. Plus, here are 15 ways you can help ease their minds.

School avoidance: Is your child so worried about school that they pretend to be sick to avoid it? We have guidance on how to help your child develop positive mental health skills to help control their anxiety. Plus, parents share how they learned to support their children. Read What if no one likes me mom?

School bullying: Is your child worried about heading back to class because they have to face a classroom bully again? We have advice on how to empower your child to speak up and how you can help prevent bullying. Plus, see infographic for 5 free apps help cope with back to school anxiety.

Child and youth mental health: Learn which signs to watch for in your child that may indicate they are struggling with their mental health and quickly find resources and support to help them in our child and youth mental health web resource.

Nutrition and exercise

Go for the goal: Good nutrition for school sports: Help ensure your child has the energy to enjoy the game. Learn about the best fuel to give them and when they need to hydrate and what they should drink and get ideas for the healthiest before and after practice snacks. 

Lunches kids actually eat: Packing a healthy school lunch is key for giving your child a healthy energy boost during their school day. Visit our Healthy Eating for children resource for comprehensive advice on feeding your family: with tips on everything from feeding vegan and vegetarian kids to managing picky eaters, plus tips on healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners in a hurry 

Safe travel to and from school

Tips for drivers to protect kids walking or riding to school: While drivers need to watch for people of all ages walking and cycling throughout the year, the roads can be especially busy as kids return to school. Everybody has a part to play when it comes to keeping our kids safe on the roads. Read about some simple ways you can keep kids safe on their way to school.

Walking to school helps kids make the grade: Children who walk, bike or use other forms of active transportation to school have been shown to have lower risks of obesity and asthma, better mental health and better performance. We have tips to help you ensure their safety and rally your community to share walk-to-school duties to make active school transport a reality for busy families.

Healthy after-school activities

Free-range play: During the school year, children are challenged all day during class. In the evenings and on weekends, they need some downtime to recharge. One of the best ways to refresh your children is to encourage free-form healthy active outdoor play. Read how one parent learned to embrace a form of free-range parenting to help her children flourish.

Unplugged after school activities: After a long day at school, many kids want to come home and unwind in front of a screen. But we’ve all heard how too much screen time can negatively-impact our children’s health. Here are some options for easy after-school and weekend crafts, sports and activity ideas, straight from kids themselves.

Sleep, dental hygiene and immunizations

Better sleep means better learning: Sleep is your child’s secret weapon to school success. Good quality sleep enhances learning, helping your child concentrate better, remember more and maintain good behaviour. Learn what to watch for and how to help them catch more zzzs. And check out these tips for helping students adopt better sleep habits for back to school.

Brush up your kids’ dental habits: Back to school is a great time to get a dental check-up and cleaning for a fresh start to school. It’s also a seasonal reminder to replace your child’s toothbrush. Confused about manual or electric as the better choice? We have tips on dental health and overcoming dental anxiety for youth plus tips on finding the right brush

Shots for back to school: Put immunizations on your children’s back to school list. Children between four and six-years-old should have up-to-date booster shots to protect against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, chicken pox and whooping cough. Another set of vaccinations are due in Grades 6 and 9. By ensuring your child is immunized, not only are you protecting their health but those in the community as well. We’ve got some tools here to help you manage and schedule your family’s immunizations.

Personal safety for high schoolers

Overdose awareness and prevention: Good information helps youth make good choices. This is crucial when it comes to preventing drug overdoses, alcohol and substance abuse in youth. Read our overdose resources for schools and parents for clear information on talking to children about drugs, complete with video examples of how to start the conversation in a way that works. We also have a guide on how to talk to your loved one if you believe they may be using substances unsafely

Tobacco, alcohol and substance use: Experimenting is a natural part of growing up. But when youth experiment with substances such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs it can have serious consequences. Get the facts on youth tobacco use and learn about youth substance use services.

We’ve also got expert information about vaping and how to talk to your teenager about the potential risks.

Sexual health: Modern parents know our children need clear, consistent and non-judgmental information about their bodies, sexual reproduction and sexuality. But these can be tough topics to broach. We have a comprehensive guide written by public health experts to help you learn how to talk to your school aged child about sexual education, sexual identity, and puberty.

Gender and sexual identity: In today’s society, youth seem to be tuning in to their authentic gender identity and sexual orientation much earlier than in their parents’ generation. We have expert advice to help parents and teachers provide your child the language, concepts and acceptance they need to feel good about themselves and their orientations so they can develop healthily without shame or fear. For youth, we have tips from our health experts on coming out

Healthy relationships: High school is commonly when youth experience their first romantic and dating relationships. Make sure your child has the knowledge and tools to form and negotiate healthy relationships that enhance their lives. We have advice from health professionals on how youth can talk about sex and sexuality with their partner and make sure they are ready, how to practice safer sex with information on birth control options, how to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases

More School Health advice

Check our website for everything you need to know about school health at For general child and youth health advice visit