For most families, preparing for the school year means getting supplies and buying new clothes. But besides physical preparation, it also means a change in routine. Kids that were used to sleeping in and snacking all day have to get used to having scheduled meals and activities. Plus, the change in environment inevitably exposes kids (and parents) to an onslaught of germs.
With all the changes happening, how do you keep your kids on the right track? We’ve compiled the following suggestions for keeping your kids happy and healthy throughout the year:
- Establish bedtimes. Adequate sleep is vital for concentration and consistent academic performance. School-aged children 13 and under require 9–11 hours of sleep each night. Two weeks before school starts, experts recommend gradually putting kids to bed earlier each night to get them used to the modified routine.
- Plan healthy meals and snacks. Packing your child’s lunch every day puts you in control of the nutritional content. If you rely on the cafeteria for lunch support, get a copy of the menu in advance to see when your child’s preferred items are being served. When you get ready to clean out the fridge and make room for the week’s ingredients, let your child help you determine what’s safe to keep. Get them involved in meal planning and preparation. When you go grocery shopping, give your children multiple healthy snack options to encourage good eating habits in the future. Oh, and don’t skip breakfast; it’s proven to keep your child alert and engaged all day.
- Sign up for sports or other activities. Your child’s summer routine may have included sedentary activities such as video games and television. The start of the school year is a good opportunity to get them involved in an after-school sport or activity that will keep them fit and active. Schedule a sports physical to make sure that your child is healthy enough to participate. If organized sports aren’t appealing, try getting a group of kids together to play softball or kickball at the park. Health experts recommend 60 minutes of activity a day for kids to maintain a healthy weight.
- Promote good hygiene. It’s no surprise that the classroom is a dirty environment. To keep germs at bay, encourage your children to wash their hands before touching food and after using the bathroom. Also, teach them to avoid sharing food or drinks with other kids.
- Prevent problems with bullies. Bullying can lead to depression and suicide in kids. Before school starts, openly discuss the dangers of bullying and reassure your child of your concern for his or her safety. Encourage your child to report any problems to you immediately. Notify school officials if bullying becomes a problem and follow up on their efforts to achieve a resolution. If your child is on social media, monitor his or her communication and status updates to detect potential issues. If your child turns out to be a bully, set firm limits on his or her aggressive behavior and practice consistent discipline. At home, always set the example in managing negative emotions.
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- National Sleep Foundation
- National Women’s Health Resource Center
- TODAY Food
- U.S. News & World Report
To learn more about health and wellness support, call Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com.