Media tipsheet: UI experts for back-to-school topics

Media tipsheet: UI experts for back-to-school topics

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an apple on a stack of books in front of blackboard©

Across the nation, students from kindergarten to college and their parents are gearing up for the beginning of the school year. It’s a big change in routine for everyone, especially after a long, fun summer.

To help everyone make a smooth transition, the University of Iowa is offering a list of experts who can talk about everything from helping a child get on the right sleep schedule to what a college student should and shouldn’t bring when moving into their dorm room.


General readiness for school, especially younger children

Expert: Deborah Linebarger, associate professor, UI College of Education

Expert contact: or 319-335-1184

Deborah Linebarger shares advice for parents on how to help their children adjust.

Linebarger recommends:

  • Start school-year routines about a week before classes begin. This gives kids time to adjust to the school-year structure.
  • Discuss and practice the logistics of going to school, including getting to and from school and what the school day will look like. This is especially important for preschoolers and kindergartners.
  • Talk with kids about any fears or concerns they might have about going to school.
  • Plan for extra time on the first few days to reduce stress.
  • Visit the school before the first day and talk kids through their school day. Walk around the playground and talk about what they might be doing during recess. Show them where the bus will pick them up and drop them off. If kids are driven to school, practice the pick-up and drop-off routine.
  • Help kids with basic social skills. Talk with younger children about ways to meet new friends. For example, “Hi. My name is Sophia. What's yours?” Encourage them to help and share with others.
  • Create a special place in the home for homework, school supplies, and backpacks. It should be a relatively quiet place with few distractions. Have the child decorate the space and do fun activities there before school starts.
  • Buy school supplies together. Discuss what they need and why. This is a great way to get kids excited about school
  • Take a photo on the first day of school. Kids often look forward to taking the picture as an annual tradition to kick off the school year.


Healthy sleep habits for kids

Deborah Lin-Dyken
Deborah Lin-Dyken

Expert: Deborah Lin-Dyken, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at UI Children’s Hospital and pediatric sleep specialist

Expert contact: or 319-384-9261

Dyken’s tips to help get kids on a sleep schedule:

  • Start enforcing wake-up times. Parents may need to slowly move both bedtime and wake-up times to correlate with the school schedule.
  • Limit the bedroom for sleeping. Remove TV, computer, video games, cell phones from the bedroom. Do not use the bedroom for “timeout.”
  • Engage in quiet activities before bed. Read to your kids, so they get “parent time” and are inspired to read.
  • Encourage moderate exercise or physical activity daily, but not within four hours of bedtime. Avoid caffeine.


Backpack-related injuries in children 18 and under

portrait of Stuart Weinstein
Stuart Weinstein

Expert: Dr. Stuart Weinstein, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at UI Hospitals and Clinics; and professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation, UI Carver College of Medicine; past president of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Expert contact: or 319-356-1872

Weinstein recommends:

  • Limiting the load in a child’s backpack to no more than 15 percent of the child's body weight.
  • Teaching kids to use both shoulder straps when wearing backpacks, rather than slinging the pack over one shoulder.
  • Purchasing backpacks at sporting goods stores, where you can find quality packs that will properly distribute weight.
  • Encouraging your child’s school to help teach good back health by inviting an orthopedic surgeon to speak at health classes or assemblies.


Helping children adjust to transitions, big and small

Kristen Missall portrait
Kristen Missall

Expert: Kristen Missall, associate professor, UI College of Education

Areas of expertise: School readiness and early school adjustment, including big transitions such as moving from middle school to high school.

Expert contact: or 319-335-5007


How to identify bullying and how to help your child

Marizen Ramirez talks about how to recognize and overcome bullying.

Expert: Marizen Ramirez, assistant professor, UI College of Public Health

Areas of expertise: Bullying, school-based injuries and violence.

Expert contact: or 319-335-4425



Success tips for college

What students should/shouldn’t bring for their dorm room

Helping parents make the transition

Hints on planning a better schedule


Sara Agnew, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0073
Anne Bassett, Office of Strategic Communication, 319- 384-0070


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