Your 8 1/4-year-old: Snack time

Your 8 1/4-year-old: Snack time

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Your 8-year-old now

Nutritionists tend to favor snack times for early-elementary-age students. Small tummies, active days, and (in some kids) fast metabolisms can leave kids hungry. In fact, many schools make nutritious snacks a regular part of the day, often in midmorning, especially when kids start early and have late lunches.

Eating small amounts more often boosts concentration and actually helps reduce overeating because a child isn't "starving" at mealtime.

You won't create a plump munching monster if you follow these smart-snacking guidelines:

  • Offer snacks at regular times, such as after school, rather than letting your child randomly nibble while playing.
  • Serve snacks at the table, not during screen time.
  • Time it right. No snacking shortly before meals. If your child is too ravenous to wait, maybe the meal time is too late, or maybe she needs a light snack a bit earlier.
  • Serve light, nutritious options: fruit with yogurt, raw veggies and dip, rice cakes, cereal-raisin-nut trail mix. Go easy on the sweets and fried foods.
  • Opt for healthy liquids. Water or diluted 100 percent juice are better choices than sweetened beverages, which can make a child crave more carbs and sweets. Most pediatricians advise avoiding caffeinated beverages (iced tea, cola, iced coffee, power beverages) because caffeine is a stimulant that in excess can cause difficulty concentrating and sleeping and increases urination. Small amounts (40 to 60 mg a day) may not be problematic, but it can be hard to know a small child's individual sensitivity level to caffeine.

Your life now

By now, you know the drill at parent-teacher conferences: The teacher starts off describing all the wonderful things about your child, segues into a behavior or concept that might need improvement, then asks you if you have any questions.

Don't overlook one important part of the conference: Talking to your child beforehand to find out if she has concerns or questions. Sometimes kids aren't comfortable confronting a teacher and may not mention it to you, either, unless you ask. Ask if she has any messages for you to pass on to the teacher.

Some schools now involve kids in conferences to try to improve communication. But ideally there should be one-on-one communication between you and the teacher as well.

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