The start of a new school year is a perfect time for parents to encourage kids to adopt habits that promote good health. Proper hygiene, good nutrition and regular exercise all play a role in keeping kids in prime shape to hit the books.
Classrooms can be a breeding ground for infectious diseases. Younger children are particularly vulnerable, since their immune systems are not fully developed. Colds spread easily. A child sneezes and others sitting nearby may get sick.
Teaching youngsters simple preventive measures can make all the difference for keeping illness at bay. Before the first school bell rings, tell your kids to:
Wash their hands well. Hand washing is a great back-to-school health tip to keep germs from taking hold. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands as frequently as possible, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. You might want to give your child a small bottle of hand sanitizer to keep in a pocket or school desk for times when soap and water aren’t readily available.
Keep their hands away from their face. The orifices of the face are portals for germs to enter the body. One easy back-to-school health tip that goes a long way is to keep germy hands away from noses, mouths and eyes to prevent illnesses.
Cover that sneeze. You want your kids to spread joy, not germs, so make sure they’re packing tissues to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Sneezing into the crook of one’s elbow is an alternative if a tissue isn’t available. After sneezing, it’s always a good idea to wash up or use hand sanitizer.
Keep a safe distance. Warm hugs are nice, but fevers aren’t, so tell your kids to reserve chummy gestures for another time.
Avoid sharing food or personal items. Sharing food, drinks, bottled water, sporting equipment or other personal items is not a good idea, since germs can spread through contact with bodily fluids such as saliva and sweat.
Plan their lunch menus with you. Preparing to head back to school also prompts thoughts about lunch menus and snacks. Good nutrition should be the foundation for all meals. Children need fuel for thought.
Studying is hard work, so make sure to pack kids’ lunch bags with healthy foods such as fruit, cut-up veggies, and sandwiches made with whole-grain breads. When packing snacks, steer away from sugary and salty products, or keep them to a minimum. Substituting a bottle of water for soda or sugar-laden fruit drinks is also a good idea if kids are beyond the sippy-straw stage.
Invite your children to play a role in the lunch-planning (and even lunch-making) process. Older children can help prepare sandwiches or salads. It’s a great way to instill healthy-eating habits early on.
Avoid foods that cause them allergic reactions. Food allergies and sensitivities need to be identified in youngsters, and the offending foods must be avoided. Make sure your child’s school knows about your child’s history in regard to allergies to foods or other substances.
Stay active. Regular exercise – away from the computer and smart phone – will also help kids stay healthy during the school year. As obesity is a national challenge, it’s recommended that children stay physically active from an early age. Exercise not only keeps young bodies fit, but experts say it also helps youngsters handle emotional challenges. School performance is sure to benefit as a result.
A few other important back-to-school health tips: Ensure your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date. In addition, encourage them to get proper rest every night, and make sure their schedules aren’t overloaded with too many extracurricular activities.
Parents who lead healthy lifestyles will encourage their children to stay focused on well being, too. Gerber Life wishes all of our readers good health during back-to-school days and all year long. These back-to-school health tips are sure to give you a good start!