In just a few short weeks, students will be returning to their classrooms for another school year. This presents a good opportunity to establish new healthy routines by evaluating your child’s sleep schedule, hygiene habits, and dietary needs. Here are some health tips to help you start a happy and healthy new school year.
Sleep – Doctors recommend a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night, but many things can interfere with achieving that amount. Setting a strict lights-out time and having a bedtime routine can help alleviate the struggle of getting the kids to bed on time. For older children, they should avoid caffeine and get plenty of exercise every day to help them fall asleep faster.
Hygiene – Being back in the classroom means exposure to more germs and illness. To help prevent getting sick, children should be reminded about the importance of washing their hands before each meal. It is also important to teach children to avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes because that is the fastest way to transmit germs. Older children should also have a low-alcohol content hand-sanitizer in their backpack to utilize when soap and water are not available.
Diet – Though schools have been making a greater effort to have healthier food options available, lunchtime still exposes children to unhealthy options such as candy or sugary beverages. It’s best to send your child to school with a lunch from home filled with wholesome foods like sandwiches on whole grain breads accompanied by fresh fruits and vegetables. If school sponsored lunch is the only option, educate your child on making healthy choices. It’s also very important to make sure your child is eating a good breakfast before school. Studies have shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast are able to concentrate and perform better in school.
Homework and Grades – Be clear from the beginning of the school year about expectations for completion of homework and grades. For example, no television is allowed until homework is completed or no allowance will be given if grades are unacceptable. There also needs to be a designated, quiet area within the home that helps the child focus on schoolwork. Parents should also be careful not to over commit to school sports or activities that could strain the child’s studying time.