The start of the school season is almost upon us! It’s time for parents and caregivers to consider some of the health and wellness issues that will arise when kids return to the classroom.
Returning to School and COVID-19
While returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic will be different for your child, it is important to reassure them that simple precautions can help keep them safe. Inquire with your child’s school for information about specific precautions they plan to take and prepare your child accordingly.
Here are key points to discuss using terms that are age-appropriate.:
• COVID-19 is still new to everyone, so many people may become ill around the same time.
• Social distancing may be required so remind your child not to hug classmates.
• Washing hands frequently helps keep everyone safer from COVID-19 and other contagious diseases such as the seasonal influenza virus.
• Wearing a mask can help protect your child and others from COVID-19 and other viruses.
In addition to studying hard and staying safe, here are 10 back-to-school tips to consider:
1. Talk to Your Child During this Transition Period
It’s important to talk to your child about what to expect and what they’re experiencing. Remember to empathize with their feelings and be mindful that worrying or feeling overwhelmed may be completely normal experiences.
2. Make Sure Kids Are Up-To-Date on Medical Care
Starting at the age of 3, it’s recommended that every child undergo an annual physical exam. This allows your child’s pediatrician to address any health problems and screen for potential future issues. Children also typically receive vaccines before the start of kindergarten, seventh grade and college.
3. Start Each Morning with a Healthy Breakfast
Did you know that studies show children who consume a nutritious breakfast each morning have increased energy and better concentration in school? Consider transitioning into better eating habits as the school year starts. That means avoiding sugary cereals and greasy fast food.
4. Plan Ahead for School Lunches and Snacks
Kids who eat healthy foods during the school day feel more energetic and focused. Remember to plan ahead and monitor what your children are eating.
5. Seek out a Well-Fitting and Age-Appropriate Backpack
Choosing a backpack can be an exciting part of preparing for the school year. Make sure to look for straps that are wide and padded, and a bag with a padded back. A proper-fitting backpack sits at the level of your child’s waist and is best worn with a strap on each shoulder to avoid muscle strain.
6. Prepare for a Safe Year of Sports
School sports are an excellent way for kids to engage in physical activity, build character and enjoy healthy social interactions. Before school sports begin, help your child choose sports they’re interested in. Consider the timing of each sport season and aim for a balance throughout the year.
7. Don’t Forget the Importance of Sleep
Children and teenagers need 8 to 12 hours of sleep each night. The most realistic way to ensure your child gets enough sleep for school is to practice good sleep hygiene throughout the year. Surprisingly, preparing for a good night’s sleep begins during the daytime. Make sure your kids avoid caffeinated beverages, including tea, dark colas or coffee drinks. Lots of physical activity and limiting screen use throughout the day also are keys to a good night’s rest.
8. Create a Homework-Friendly Environment
Homework is an extension of school. A home environment that best mimics a school environment is ideal for helping your child concentrate at the end of the day. Provide a dedicated quiet place in your home where your child has a flat desk or table to sit at and study.
9. Limit Screen Time Before and After School
Screen time has become an ongoing battle in many households, starting from a very early age. While screens may provide a small amount of educational opportunities, for the most part, the negative effects far outweigh the benefits.
Children’s screen time always should be supervised. Use any parental controls and privacy settings available, and closely monitor any social media sites or apps used by your child.
10. Remember to Celebrate
After you’re done preparing for a new school year, try to enjoy the moment! Plan a celebratory dinner, enjoy some music together or sit down and have everyone list their goals and hopes for the year. Whatever your ritual, we hope your family has a safe, healthy and successful school year.