Healthy Is Cool For Back To School
By practicing safe, healthy behaviors, you are setting your child up for success in the classroom. Starting school is not only stressful for you as the parents, but it can also be an anxious time for children. Utilizing healthy habits and behaviors will keep them feeling their best despite the stress of school.
To settle those back to school jitters and keep your child happy and healthy all school year long, we have provided helpful tips for some of the most common concerns parents have.
Backpack Safety: While this is one you may have heard before, it bears repeating. Backpack safety is a major concern as upwards of 14,000 children are treated annually for backpack related injuries.
Tips: Always use both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack. Make sure the heaviest items are placed closest to the body; however, don’t overload the backpack. At maximum, the backpack should only weigh 10 to 15 percent of the child’s body weight (e.g., for a 100 lb. child that is 10 to 15 pounds). Listen to your child; if they are complaining about back pain, they should see a physician.
Healthy Hygiene Habits: Between sitting on the school bus and playing at recess, kids can get very dirty while they’re at school. Of course, it is impossible to prevent this completely, but there are a few essentials to follow to prevent them from spreading germs and/or getting sick.
Tips: Each of us, including children, should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water. Have them hum a song like Twinkle Twinkle to ensure they are actually washing for the proper amount of time. The key times to make sure they are washing their hands; after going to the bathroom and before eating. Try putting hand sanitizer wipes in their lunchboxes as an easy option before eating.
Getting Enough Sleep: Insufficient sleep has quite the impact on children. Not unlike adults, it can cause irritability, difficulty focusing and stress. Especially when in school, it is important for children to have enough sleep. Research has even shown a link between sleep and grades.
Tips: The most important thing you can do is to find out the recommended hours of sleep your child needs. For children ages 3-5, 9 to 12 hours; for children ages 6-13, 8 to 11 hours; and for children 14-17, 8 to 10 hours. Once you know the number of hours your child needs, set strict bedtimes and be consistent. The same goes for morning routines, make sure you have them wake up at consistent times so you can figure out the ideal routine for your child.
Healthy Snacks and Lunches: Packing lunches and snacks for school can be challenging, especially if your child is a picky eater. To avoid sugar crashes and teach healthful habits, make sure you incorporate healthy fresh options instead of prepackaged meals (e.g., Lunchables).
Tips: While you don’t want to overlook the importance of breakfast, planning for a meal while your child is away from home deserves extra attention. Stick to the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 30 percent healthy grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruit and 20 percent protein. Utilize fresh produce for snacks and have some fun by also including yummy, healthy dips.
School Bus Safety: It may surprise you to learn that riding the bus is 13 times safer than riding in the family vehicle and 10 times safer than walking. That's because school buses are designed for safety, with flashing lights, large mirrors, high seat backs and bright yellow colors. While the school bus is one of the safest forms of transportation for your child to and from school, it is important that they practice safe behaviors while onboard.
Tips: Don’t ever let your child wait for the school bus alone. Always make sure there are other kids or parents present. While on the bus, make sure your child stays seated and doesn’t put head, arms or hands out the window. Your child should not stand up before the school bus has stopped completely. Encourage your child to use the handrail while boarding and exiting the bus.
This school year can be the best one yet for both you and your child. Healthy habits while at school and at home encourage your child to feel their best and do their best. If you are concerned about your child’s health, no matter how big or small, make sure you talk to your physician. Preventative appointments, like sports physicals and check-ups, are important as well as to stay proactive about your child’s health needs as they continue to grow and their needs change.