After a summer full of vacations, swimming, and camps, our children have begun school again in Okaloosa County. To keep you and your family stress-free this busy back-to-school season, we’ve created a list of helpful tips.

ORGANIZE: Print out the school schedule for specific holidays and deadlines that apply for your family. Incorporate the school schedule with your appointments, meetings, etc. to create a one-stop shop for all of your family’s important dates, times, and deadlines. With a little bit of time you can create a simple, but efficient family command center.

ROUTINE: Children stayed up late and slept in throughout the summer. Now that school, homework, and sports are back in session, a proper sleep schedule will be imperative for you and your family’s health.

A child’s sleep needs vary depending on their age. School-aged children are recommended approximately nine to eleven hours and teenagers need eight to ten hours per night. To begin the new sleep schedule, begin with setting bedtimes and wake-up times that would be similar to their school sleep and awake schedules. The sooner that your children adjust to their altered sleep schedule, the sooner they aren’t in a bad mood or falling asleep in their classes.

PREPARE: It is important to be ready for the day ahead and the easiest way to accomplish this is to arrange the child’s clothes and figure out their lunches the night before. The lunches do not have to be gourmet, but having an idea if the child will have a packed or paid for lunch will ease you and your family’s stress.

CREATE BALANCE: Homework and grades are important, but their extra-curricular activities allow your children to learn important life skills. Their activities should incorporate leadership skills, communication, teamwork, and patience all while your child is having fun. Throughout the school year our school, community, and the 4-H program provide events and activities for your child to learn, succeed, and have fun.

Our 4-H year is full of events, day camps, and after-school programs.

This fall we are encouraging our Okaloosa County schools to participate in the state-wide public speaking contest, Tropicana. This event teaches and encourages youth in fourth through sixth grade to participate in public speaking and communication.

In the spring, 4-H will once again be providing the embryology program in the Okaloosa County schools and military bases. Students will observe and learn about the life cycle of chickens of multiple breeds while learning the responsibility of taking care of animals. For more information about of school enrichment programs, in-school/out of school clubs, community clubs, or becoming a volunteer please contact us at the information below.

Katie Oakes and Taylor Wilken are agents at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.