Back to School. Health Matters!
You’ve got all the accessories required and the new uniform, in fact, you are all set to go! What have you done to look after your child’s health as they head off to school, maybe for the first time?
We have put together a bit of a checklist which should take some of the pressure off you to remember every step! Discover the problems and solutions that impact the health of your child. These may include things such as overloaded backpacks, bullying, or back-to-school separation anxiety.
1. Be their Lunchbox Hero
We all understand that small changes can make a big difference over time. Changing the way you pack your kids’ lunches can make them healthier in the long term. You will also help them appreciate what healthy food tastes like. Try filling their lunch box with colourful fruits and vegetables. Grapes, apples, mangoes, berries, can prove a hit. Thin slices of red bell peppers and carrots are often popular. Switch juices and sodas for water. Maybe consider substituting white bread for whole grains. This will add more fibre to their diets.
2. Prepare With Good Sleep Routines
The long days of summer can throw sleep routines out. Getting the kids ready for their school schedule ahead of time will ensure they are alert and ready to learn when school starts. School-aged children function better with at least 10 hours of sleep every night. Teens need between nine and 10 hours. Get kids accustomed to the same bedtime every night, a routine is the key. Remove screen devices from their rooms at night, like mobiles, tablets, computers, TVs, and other gadgets.
3. Immunize, Immunize, Immunize
Polio was once one of the most dreaded of childhood diseases. Its impact was devastating causing paralysis and even death. In 1955 a vaccine was created and widely implemented. Today polio has been almost eradicated.
Vaccinations save children from unnecessary pain, illness, and death. Be sure your child’s immunisations are up-to-date for their safety, and for the safety of others. If you are not sure ask your GP, they will be able to help.
4. Flu Shots
Every year, kids in school are at risk of contracting the flu virus. This interferes with learning and in certain cases can be deadly. To reduce the risk for your children and their classmates, make sure to get them immunised. Ideally, get your family vaccinated before April, the start of the flu season.
5. Staying Physically Fit
Kids need at least an hour a day to exercise. Making sure they get enough exercise is a matter of getting their priorities more balanced. Setting limits on TV-watching, video game time, and similar low-energy activities. This can give kids the encouragement they need to pick up a ball or a go out and explore their surroundings. Doing so helps kids maintain a healthy weight, sleep better, and feel less stressed out. This all contributes to better productivity in school.
6. Teach them the Rules of the Road
As the school year starts, remember to teach your children about walking and bicycling safely. Be sure your kids know to always walk on a path when available. When there is no pathway, always walk on the shoulder of the road facing traffic. Whenever possible, cross the road where lights indicate when it is safe to do so.
7. Battling Backpack Burdens
Experts state that carrying any more than 10-15 percent of a child’s body weight in backpacks can cause health problems. Heavy backpacks can cause significant pain in children’s backs, necks, and shoulders. Girls are particularly prone to back pain from heavy bags. Lightweight backpacks with waist belts and padded backs can make a difference. Using both shoulder straps is also a good idea. Finding ways to reduce the extra weight like using lockers more frequently between classes will help.
8. Sick at School? Have a Plan
Many parents work and getting a call from the school nurse can be a major disruption. Caring for your child when they come down with an illness takes planning when you work. Your backup plan may include a trusted family member. Maybe a family friend who can care for your child for the day. You may just need them to take them to a babysitter or child care facility flexible enough to take sick kids. You could ask if there is a parent network at your school for support during challenging times such as these.
9. Emergency Medication
When your child needs medication, the law may prevent schools from administering it without your written consent and a note from a doctor. You must find out what the protocol is. Remember that when it comes to transporting medication, make sure adults are in charge. Once your child is mature and responsible enough to handle the job themselves then hand it to them.
10. Keep Clear of Colds
Don’t let colds and other infectious diseases stand in the way of your child’s success. Teach your kids the basics of cold prevention. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face, sneeze into tissues or sleeves and throw tissues away after using them. Find ways to lower your kids’ stress. This can help them keep colds at bay, too.
11. Allergy Awareness
The new school year can also bring new allergy concerns. Common triggers include mould, dust mites, and chalk dust. Food allergies present other challenges. Talk to your child’s teachers, coaches, and other school staff about your child’s needs. If your child has hay fever, pay attention to local
pollen counts and plan accordingly with allergy-fighting medicine. If your child has a life-threatening food allergy, make sure school staff know how to administer auto-injectable epinephrine.
12. Beware of the Heat
It’s easy to forget that for most students the beginning of the school year is the hottest time of the year. One of the most important ways to protect your child’s health in the heat is to be sure they’re staying hydrated. For kids aged 4-8, about 1.5 litres of water should be enough on a hot day. The amount increases for each age group, levelling out as teenagers at about 2 litres.
13. Get them in for a Check-up
It’s a good idea for kids to have a yearly checkup to keep up with their growth progress and other health concerns. From birth until early adulthood, doctors recommend that children be seen annually. Perhaps allocate the first day of school as your reminder each year. The annual checkup is an important time to assure your child’s health and wellness.
14. Time for Glasses?
As children head to school, some of them will begin to notice trouble with their vision. Vision problems may create barriers to learning. Young children often do not tell their parents about their vision problems. Some may not even recognise that they have problems with their sight. A yearly eye exam is recommended. Watch for signs of vision problems. These can include squinting or rubbing the eyes. Sitting too close to the television, frequently losing their place while reading can also be indicative of problems. Closing one eye to see better and frequent headaches can also be added to the list.
15. Overcoming Separation Anxiety
It’s common and natural for parents and children to feel anxious about being apart as the school year starts. There are ways to relieve this separation anxiety. Try practicing ahead of time by leaving kids with caregivers for short periods. Developing a simple goodbye ritual can help reassure children. Make goodbyes short and sweet—don’t hesitate! Understand that your own trouble saying goodbye may feed into your child’s anxiety. Forging a good relationship with the teacher can help you both feel better about saying goodbye for the day.
16. Building a Healthy Future
Little eyes are watching. By taking steps to secure your child’s health at school, you are leading by example. Children learn how to take better care of themselves when you take them to get annual checkups. If you teach them how to make preparations to manage their allergies and follow the other steps listed you are helping them. Those lessons can last a lifetime, setting them on the right track to become and remain healthy adults.
Enjoy and try not to get too stressed. We hope this helps you do that!