Back to School: 10 Health Tips for Parents

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  1. Sleep – Make sure your child gets a good night of sleep. A child should average around 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Make a bedtime routine so that she can begin to relax about a half an hour before actual bedtime. Read a story together and make her feel comfortable and relaxed. Start the school year bedtime routine a week or two before school starts. During that week or two, it’s also advisable to wake your child at the time she will have to get up for school so the transition from summer to school year is not as tough on her schedule!
  2. Nutrition – Breakfast 1st! It’s important for your child to have a healthy, nutritious breakfast before starting a long school day. Studies have proven that eating a healthy breakfast boosts a child’s attention span and enables them to achieve more academically. Feed your child milk, fresh fruit, yogurt, whole-grain cereals and breads, and fruit juices and she will feel better and achieve more in school.

Snacks – Whether you provide snacks for during the school day or just an afternoon snack when she arrives home, make sure the snack is healthy. Teaching children to eat fresh fruits and other healthy snacks at a young age will benefit them now and in the future and lessen the chances of childhood obesity.

Water – Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and stays away from the high-calorie, high-sugar drinks.

  1. Cleanliness – In this day and age of H1N1 virus and other communicable diseases spread by hand and mouth, it’s very important to teach your child basic cleanliness both in the home and out. Simple things like washing her hands after going to the restroom and sneezing and coughing into her sleeve can go a long way in preventing illness. If your child is sick, keep her home so she doesn’t pass germs to other children. Place a small container of hand sanitizer in her backpack so if she’s unable to wash her hands, she can still be clean.
  2. Safety – Safety at the bus stop is a must. Teach your child that she should wait until the bus is fully stopped to enter the bus. If the bus offers seat belts, stress to her that she should always wear it. In this era of child abductions, it’s a good idea to accompany your child to the bus stop and wait for her to get on before leaving. If that’s not possible, talk to other parents and rotate the duty of watching the children load and unload the bus. 5.
    Bullying can sometimes be a problem at school too. Talk to your child about how to handle bullies and make sure she knows it is ok to tell you or a teacher if she is being bullied.
  3. Emotional Health – Children often dread the first day of school. They are often scared, unsure, and shy. Talk to your child during the week before school starts, stressing how much fun school will be. Bring up fun things that she did in school the year before. If possible, take her to meet her new teacher before school starts. Let her know that there are friends from the year before in her class but that it’s also fun and exciting to meet new people and make new friends.
  4. Homework time can be stressful for the entire family! Set up an afternoon routine so that your child knows when she is expected to do homework. Give her a healthy snack first and let her relax a while before having to dig into homework! Set up a place that she can concentrate but where she also has access to you so she can ask questions if necessary. Try to make it as less stressful as possible!
  5. Proper clothing is an important safety issue as well. Your child should be comfortable and wear appropriate clothing for her age and the weather. Wearing hats, coats, gloves, etc. in the cold winter months will keep her warm and healthy!
  6. Exercise should be an important part of a child’s life. Hopefully your child already gets a lot of exercise by playing outside, riding her bike, etc. Extracurricular activities are an excellent way to get your child involved in regular exercise. Just be sure not to overload her with too many activities outside of school! She may get overwhelmed and exhausted by school, homework, and extracurricular activities!
  7. Medical issues – Schools require certain immunizations for children to attend school. However, flu and pneumonia immunizations are being highly recommended for children as well. Talk to your pediatrician about what is recommended for your child.