Back to School Wellness Tips
Now that kids are back to school, they are exposed to lots of stress, germs, and activities that can impact their learning. Here are a few tips to keep your kids healthy and ready to learn for the upcoming school year:
1. Healthy food options
Adding protein to your child’s breakfast can help regulate their blood sugar during the first part of their day. When kids eat sugars and carbohydrates for breakfast, they may have a boost in their energy initially, but then often have difficulty with attention and behavior mid-morning. There are lots of options for proteins at breakfast including eggs, cottage cheese, shakes with protein powder, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter toast, etc. Next you want to make sure you pack a lunch that will get them through the rest of their day. Some healthy lunch options might include-turkey, ham, cheese sticks, yogurt, granola bars, fruit, avocado, green/ red/ yellow peppers, edamame beans and hard-boiled eggs.
2. Find ways to manage stress
School, work and daily life can bring about stressors for all of us. We often have too many commitments and can feel a bit too scheduled. As parents we try to find ways to manage our stress and teaching your child to manage theirs is important as well. Remember that kids need down time. Look at the week and make sure that there is enough downtime over the course of the week for your child. Allow your child time to “free play” where the activities that are not structured. Encourage your child to understand how their bodies are feeling. For many kids, it is difficult to problem solve what to do when they are nervous, scared or excited. When you can help them to recognize what their body is feeling and what strategies to use to cope with those feelings, it gives them power and control. Don’t forget to manage your own stress too. It is easy to get wrapped up in the weekly chaos, but as a parent you can set an example of what to do when your body is becoming stressed. Involve your child in those conversations so they can gain those problem solving skills.
3. Teach importance of handwashing
Washing hands is one of the most important things we can do to minimize the spread of germs and keep ourselves healthy. It can prevent trips to the doctor, absences from school and work, as well as dealing with sickness that continue to pass through the family/ classroom. It is important to teach your kids to wash before eating/ cooking, after using the bathroom or playing outside as well as after sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing. Have your child wash their hands in warm water, use soap and lather for about 20 seconds, then rinse and dry thoroughly. You can encourage your younger child to sing a song for the duration of handwashing.
4. Set bedtime/ morning routines
We are all aware of how sleep can impact our day. It is often hard to get enough sleep in with our busy schedules. Making sure that you set up a structured bedtime and morning routine can significantly impact the amount and quality of sleep your child gets. It is recommended that school aged children 6-13 years old get 9-11 hours of sleep and teenagers get 8-10 hours. It is also recommended that screen time (e.g. Phones, TVs, computers, tablets) be limited to at least 2 hours before bed, as the light will impact the child’s sleep. When kids don’t get enough sleep they can have the following difficulties:
o Emotional irritability
o Impaired memory
o Lack of alertness
o Difficulty concentrating
o Difficulty managing stressors
o Decreased participation in classroom/ extracurricular activities
o Increased behaviors