Your kiddo is all set for the new school year with all their new school supplies. Everything from pencils and notebooks to a brand-new backpack is covered. But don't forget to think about their health as school starts.
As a parent, you want to do everything to ensure your child is as healthy as possible before they leave the comfort of home and venture into the halls of school. So, as you go through your child's back-to-school checklist, be sure to include their health!
For some kids back to school can be an exciting time, but for others (and their parents!), it can be a little nerve-wracking. There's a lot to think about these days, including how they can avoid getting sick at school. That's why we put together these 5 tips for parents on the first day of school.
1. Balanced Diet
The best way for kids to stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. If your child has special dietary needs, you may wonder if they need to take vitamins. A children’s multivitamin can help support your child’s health. For example, Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent respiratory infection and boost the immune system. Making sure your child has a well-balanced lunch, is getting enough physical activity, and has all the healthy habits they need to feel good is imperative for the school year.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
When it comes to your child staying healthy, hydration is key. Dehydration can lead to headaches, lightheadedness, sleepiness, and poor learning in children. According to healthychildren.org, “to stay well hydrated, children ages 1-3 years need approximately 4 cups of beverages per day, including water or milk. This increases for older kids to around 5 cups for 4-8-year-olds, and 7-8 cups for older children”. Help your child pick out a water bottle they like to carry and keep at their desk to encourage them to drink throughout the day. If they don't like the taste of plain water, add a slice of fruit, like pineapple, to give it some flavor.
3. A Good Night’s Sleep
As a parent, you know how important it is for your kids to get a good night's sleep. After all, a good night's sleep is the foundation for growth, learning, and play. But if your child is having difficulty sleeping, it's important to talk to their pediatrician and come up with bedtime routines
4. Keep Them Home When Sick
If your child is feeling ill, it's important to keep them home from school. This will help prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Some signs that your child may be too ill for school include a fever, cough, headache, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If your child has been exposed to an illness like COVID-19, follow CDC guidelines for quarantining. Staying safe means staying home!
5. Open Conversation
The new school year is exciting but can also be a little stressful for kids. If your child seems nervous about the upcoming year, take them to visit their classroom before the first day. This will help them feel more comfortable and less anxious.
Talk with them about any concerns they have and let them voice their worries to you. Then, discuss the positives this year will bring and ways they can have fun with it. Overall, let them know you’re there if they need to talk about anything that happens throughout the year.
Use your family activity time to have open discussions with your children while keeping them physically fit. Also, get to know their teachers. Discuss your child’s strengths, interests, and areas where they might need more help. This will help you and the teachers work together to ensure your child has a successful year.
Here are some top back-to-school tips for parents from experts on how to help your kids stay healthy this school year:
- The Vampire Sneeze! When they feel a sneeze, show them how to point their elbows out to the side and sneeze into the bend. This will help keep germs from circulating. If they can't do that, sneeze into their shirt to contain the droplets.
- It's important to use a new tissue each time you blow your nose, sneeze, or wipe your nose. This will help prevent germs from spreading. Once they are done with the tissue, tell them to throw it away in a lined trash can. This will help keep their room or classroom clean and tidy.
- Make sure they know to wash their hands often, especially after sneezing or coughing. The best way to do this is with warm water and soap, rubbing hands together for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer if they can't wash their hands with soap and water.
- Don't touch your face! This increases the risk of infection, especially during cold and flu season. Keep their hands away from the eyes, nose, and mouth to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember, mucous membranes are the perfect entry point for respiratory infections.
- While we’ve often heard that “sharing is caring,” it can also spread germs. If they must share supplies, make sure your child knows to wash their hands when they are done. If your child must share crayons, markers, or scissors in class, make sure they wash their hands afterward. Sharing can spread germs, so it's important to be clean and hygienic.
- If your child's backpack is too heavy, it can strain their shoulders and back. Help them pack as lightly as possible, and make sure they use both shoulder straps. A backpack with wide, padded straps will help support their back better. Or, if the school allows, you could consider a rolling bag.
The Bottom Line
As a parent, it is important to be aware of your child's health and make sure that any physical or mental health challenges are addressed before the start of the school year. This will help ensure that your child is healthy and successful throughout the year.
Use these back-to-school health tips for parents as a reminder of the importance of children's health in relation to their learning and development.