Back-to-school time is busy for kids and parents. Coordinating schedules, making sure everyone has what they need, and just getting back into the groove can take some adjusting after the long summer break. All the busyness that comes with the start of a new school year can take a toll on your kids -- and you.
Make sure you take the right precautions to make this the healthiest school year yet. Here are some health tips from our experts at East Meadow Medical.
1. Get vaccinations up to date
Check with your school to ensure your child is properly vaccinated prior to the start of the new academic year. Dr. Razzaq-Ahmed can let you know which vaccines are recommended for your child based on age. She may recommend that your child gets a flu shot before the virus begins its rounds. An ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure when it comes to keeping your family healthy.
2. Set a strict bedtime and stick to it
A good night’s sleep is essential to good health. Both parents and their kids need to get their Zs especially at this busy time of the year. Back to school health depends on sound sleep habits, so set a strict bedtime.
Adults need a full 7-8 hours in order to maintain good health, but children need more sleep than that:
- Preschoolers: 10-13 hours
- School-aged children: 9-11 hours
- Teens: 8-10 hours
If your child has trouble falling asleep, consider their screen time. Studies show viewing electronic devices can interrupt the body’s ability to fall to sleep. Put all electronic devices “to bed” at least 2 hours before your child’s bedtime. Incorporate bedtime rituals that are relaxing; a warm bath and some cuddle time while you read them a story is a great way to unwind.
3. Maintain good hygiene
Thorough hand-washing throughout the day can’t be stressed enough, especially when back-to-school time arrives. Germs lurk on every surface of the classroom. It’s important to your child’s health to teach them to wash their hands after using the restroom, before lunch, and after recess. Make sure they have access to hand sanitizer as well.
Stress the importance of not sharing combs, brushes, hats, and hair accessories like headbands. Lice thrive among school-aged children. Check your child’s head each day and know the signs, such as excessive head scratching and the appearance of grey or white “sesame seed”-like particles at the base of the hair near the root.
4. Ensure a healthy diet
Begin your child’s day with a healthy breakfast. Yogurt, eggs, or a breakfast sandwich along with fruit ensures they start the day on a healthy note.
For lunch, bypass the convenience foods, such as prepackaged snacks and grab-n-go lunches. Although it can be time consuming to make your child’s lunch, it’s far healthier for them. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads or wraps, lean proteins, cheeses, and nuts. Easy-to-eat foods like baby carrots, apple slices, grapes, and melon chunks, can all be portioned ahead of time for easy lunch-packing.
Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand for after school as well. Your kids have worked up an appetite, and it’s often a long time between lunchtime and getting home. Healthy meals and snacks will go a long way in keeping your kid’s immune system strong.
5. Control stress
Stress isn’t good for anyone, and without the tools to handle it, your kids can suffer weakened immune systems, insomnia, and a whole host of other health problems. Back to school time can be stressful, especially if your child is attending a new school.
Learn the signs your kids may be harboring stress. Encourage them to share their day with you and take the time to listen. As tempting as it is for kids to get involved in extracurricular activities like scouts or sports, limit them to one activity and don’t overschedule -- that can stress everyone out.
Help your child develop healthy ways to channel stress. Go for a walk with as a family, draw with them, color in a coloring book, or play catch outside. Find ways to help them relax, and these habits will serve them for the rest of their lives.
Back-to-school health means a wellness exam
One of the best ways to ensure a healthy school year for your child is by scheduling a wellness exam. Dr.Razzaq-Ahmed provides pediatric care for the youngest members of your family, as well as adolescents and adults. Schedule a wellness exam for your child today and rest assured they’ll start the new school year healthy and happy. Call the office to make an appointment or book it while you’re online.