July and August are back-to-school season for many here in Wake County. Whether your kids are year-round or traditional, getting into the swing of things at the start of a new school year can be tough. Set your family up for success with these tips for a healthy back-to-school.
Tips for Better Back-to-School Health
#1 – Make Time for Movement.
Don’t let the chaos of school routines interrupt your kids’ ability to remain active. While kids have plenty of time for activity in the summer, most schools only offer 30 minutes of physical activity which is not enough for most kids.
Make time whenever possible for kids to be active – whether it’s through formal sports programs, riding bikes in the neighborhood or just running around the yard. While it can be harder to find large blocks of time during the school year, simply encourage your kids to take 10-15 minutes whenever your schedules permit throughout the day.
#2 – Sleep for Success.
Sleep is critically important for children’s mental and physical development, and the right amount of sleep allows kids to better focus throughout the school day. To ensure a good night’s rest, establish a consistent routine and limit screen time before bed. Keeping the room cool and dark can help, too.
The National Sleep Foundation offers some great tips on the impact of the five senses on your sleep environment. If you have a troubled sleeper, it’s worth a quick look.
#3 – Nourish With Good Food.
The foods your kids eat can have an impact on their school performance, too.
“Start the year off right – kids need a healthy, protein-packed breakfast, followed by hearty snacks and balanced meals throughout the day. Limit empty carbs found in most prepackaged snacks or juice drinks and instead offer healthier options such as greek yogurt, hummus and veggies or peanut butter and crackers,” explains Dr. Madan.
#4 – Set Screen Time Limits.
It can be hard to do, but too much screen time can really have a negative impact in numerous areas. It can impact kids’ ability to sleep and focus, not to mention it can reduce the time they spend on school work or being active. Setting limits that are consistent, easy-to-follow and most importantly, easy to enforce – are extremely important to your children’s school performance.
#5 – Hand Washing, Hand Washing & MORE Hand Washing.
Think norovirus, colds, pink eye, Hand Foot & Mouth disease, flu and more. Back to school means back to germs and good hand washing is the best way to keep your kids healthy and IN SCHOOL. Remind them of the importance of hand washing – they can’t keep up with what’s going on with their friends if they are out sick, right?
Hopefully, following these steps for a healthy back to school can make a busy transition a little easier. We’d love to hear your tips, too. What does your family do to stay healthy during the school year?
About Ragini Madan, MD
Dr. Ragini Madan is a family medicine physician with WakeMed Physician Practices Primary Care – Apex. She helps parents and their children stay healthy during the school year and all year long.