Sending your kids back to school the healthy way

Here we are again, wondering what happened to summer and ushering our kids into another school year. We have a few tips for keeping your family healthy amidst all the chaos!

1. Help your child form good sleep habits. During the summer, schedules often go right out the window and kids are staying up later and sleeping in longer. Once school starts the abrupt change can be a difficult adjustment. Pediatricians recommend children get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, so keep that in mind when considering your kids’ new bedtime. Remember that screens (TV, phone, computer, tablet) emit a light that can disrupt the sleep rhythm of the brain making you feel less sleepy then you actually are. Make it a habit to turn electronics off a good hour before bedtime (phones should be charged outside the bedroom). Get your child — and your family — into habits that will make for healthy sleep all year round.

2. Get in a hand washing habit. We all know that with the start of a new school year comes the spread of illness. Each new school year parents are battling any number of viruses that come home with their kids. Teach your kids again about the importance of washing their hands, particularly before eating. Remember to have them refrain from touching their face with their hands and also make sure they aren’t putting school supplies in their mouths. Biting on a pencil can not only spread germs, but can potentially harm their teeth by chipping or cracking them.

3. Plan healthy lunches and snacks. Use the end of summer to talk with your child about healthy food they can bring to school. Try to avoid cavity causing snacks like crackers, cookies and candy or sugary drinks. Fruits, vegetables, cheese and nuts are good snack choices along with water to wash it all down. Choosing high protein low carb/sugar snacks can not only give them brain power and make them feel great, but will protect their dental health as well!

4. Make an appealing homework place, and decide on a routine. They should have a quiet, well-lit, pleasant place to do their homework. For younger children, it should be where you can easily supervise, but not necessarily in the middle of family chaos. For all ages, the homework place should involve a desk or table, and should not be near a television. Decide together when in the day your child will do homework (right after school, before dinner, after dinner, etc.) You can always change it up later if it doesn’t work out, but having both the space and the time in place on the first day of school gets things started on the right foot.

5. Plan activities — and downtime. It’s important that your child be active, so signing up for a team sport or other physical activity can be a good idea. At the very least it is crucial that kids have some sort of physical activity even if it’s a brief walk or bike ride. Kids need to form healthy habits of fitness, but also need a way to vent any pent up energy from the day. Schools are offering less recess time than ever before so it is important to keep our kids moving! As important as physical activity is, be sure that there is downtime every day too, as this is crucial for your child’s mental health. Your child needs time to relax and play no matter what their age. Every day there should be time that is unscheduled that your child can use in whatever way they want.

Here’s to another successful school year!

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