Move over, summer–a new school year is coming! Here are some important reminders on how to stay healthy as the kids head back to the classroom.
1) Adequate Sleep
One of the most important school health issue for most kids is getting enough sleep –about 10 to 11 hours a night for elementary school-age children. That sounds simple, but the trouble is, it’s not always easy to make your child’s sleep patterns mesh with his new school schedule.
When parents work late, children’s bedtimes often get pushed back to create a window of family time. How can you argue with that? But to make sure your child can make it through the day without dozing at his desk, night-owl families need to start gradually shifting their schedules a few weeks before school. starts. You simply can’t wait till the night before to start an early to bed routine.
Don’t be surprised if your child comes home from school exhausted, especially in the first few weeks. The new schedule is a huge adjustment. Many kids will need a nap after school to help them recover. If your child doesn’t want to sleep, try to talk them into 30 minutes of quiet time –with no television.
2) Hand Washing
During the first few weeks of school, when kids return to the classroom, they face a heightened risk for getting sick. In fact, it has been dubbed the “back-to-school plague” because so many kids – especially elementary students – catch colds early in the school year.
Why are kids more likely to come down with a cold during the back-to-school season? Well, for one, students are much more likely to come in contact with germs after having avoided them for most of the summer. Unfortunately, their immune systems aren’t fully developed and their bodies can’t defend against germs as effectively as adults.
Plus, being in close contact with classmates and germy habits like chewing on pens and pencils also increase the likelihood of getting sick.
Frequent hand-washing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay healthy in school. Remind your child to wash his or her hands before eating and after using the toilet, blowing his or her nose, or playing outside. Suggest soaping up for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
In addition to frequent hand-washing, encourage your child to follow these tips:
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Give your child a package of tissues to keep in his or her desk or backpack. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue — then put the tissue in the trash, and wash his or her hands. If it isn’t possible to reach a tissue in time, remind your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her elbow.
• Keep your hands away from your eyes and out of your mouth. Remind your child that hands are often covered in germs.
• Don’t share water bottles, food or other personal items. Offer your child this simple rule — if you put the item in your mouth, keep it to yourself.
3) Keep Moving
Once he or she enters school, they will be spending most of their day sitting at a desk and you can’t assume that recess and gym class are giving them all the daily activity they needs to stay healthy and happy.
Kids need 20 to 30 minutes of regular, nonstop exercise a day! Physical education classes and after-school sports may not be enough. Plan weekly bike rides and nature walks, and your whole family will benefit.
There are a few reasons drinking enough water is good for kids throughout the school year. First, hydration is critical for proper immune system function. Water helps the body flush out harmful toxins, absorb nutrients more efficiently and helps promote proper lymph function. Thus, staying hydrated enables the body to better defend itself against harmful germs.
If your child does become sick, staying hydrated can also help relieve cold symptoms. For instance, drinking fluids when battling a cold can help break up mucus and relieve congestion, as well as replace the additional fluids that are lost due to fever.
ADDED BONUS, several studies have shown that kids who are hydrated have better concentration during class and more sustained energy throughout the school day.
5) Maintaining a Healthy Diet
One of the best ways to stay healthy is by choosing an array of foods to boost your immune system. Eating healthy, antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, and lean protein is an important part of maintaining good immune system health to help ward off infection and illness.
If you are needing more tips or a wellness visit before school starts, please call 574-330-0464 to schedule an appointment.