As any parent knows, kids are already prone to getting sick. This problem only intensifies when the kids go to school and mingle with others, picking up germs all the while. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the risk minimal. By encouraging several good habits and taking preventive measures yourself, you can make sure your kids stay healthy during the school year.
Keep Your Students Healthy at School
The start of a new school year doesn’t have to mean the reintroduction of viruses or the continuation of bad habits. Keep your kids healthy and happy through positive reinforcement and modeling good behavior. Here’s a few ideas to get you on the right track to healthy children:
- Stay up to date on vaccines
- Encourage physical activity
- Encourage good sleeping habits
- Practice good hygiene
- Visit the doctor
- Prepare healthy snacks
- Make sure everyone brushes their teeth
1) Stay Up to Date on Vaccines
No step toward childhood health is as controversial or as vitally important as vaccination. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists would have you believe, vaccination is one of the safest and most effective forms of disease prevention available today. Making sure your children receive the recommended vaccine regimen and stay up to date is the best way to ensure their long-term health, especially when exposed to other kids who aren’t concerned with hygiene. Talk to your doctor about vaccines for your children and their recommended timing.
2) Encourage Physical Activity
According to the CDC, children require about an hour of physical activity every day to stay healthy. Unfortunately, most of the time spent in school involves sitting still, meaning your kids aren’t getting all the exercise they need at school. Encourage them to play outside, help with chores, or do other physical activities when they come home. Make sure they get in that required hour of exercise.
3) Encourage Good Sleeping Habits
The average adult needs about 8.5-9 hours of sleep every night, but young children require more like 10-13 hours depending on age. Too little sleep can inhibit a child’s growth, health, and mood the following morning. Make sure everyone gets to bed at a good time and wakes up with enough time to get to school promptly.
Unfortunately, sometimes simply enforcing an early bedtime isn’t enough. Some children may have issues (such as hormone imbalances) that make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. If you suspect this is the case for your little ones, talk to your doctor to find a solution.
4) Practice Good Hygiene
Hygiene goes beyond simply washing your hands before handling food (though that’s also important to teach kids). Model proper hygiene for your children by demonstrating and/or reinforcing good habits such as:
- Brushing and flossing their teeth
- Showering and scrubbing thoroughly
- Washing their hands
- Trimming and cleaning their nails
Encouraging these habits early will go a long way toward helping your kids maintain their own health as they age.
5) Visit the Doctor
Don’t wait until someone is sick to visit the doctor! Preventive health visits or check-ups are important for catching health issues before they become unmanageable. Find a pediatrician you can trust and take your kids in before the school year progresses too far. Not only will this help you catch any problems early, but it will also encourage your child to trust their doctor as a source of health information.
6) Prepare Healthy Snacks
Kids tend to eat about half their daily calories at school, between meals or snacks the school offers. While most schools try to provide relatively healthy food options, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure your children get all the nutrients they need. Make healthy snacks for when they come home and pack nutritious lunches if the school doesn’t provide lunch. Find healthy foods your kids enjoy and encourage them to stock up on their daily nutrients.
Pro Tip: Some nutrient-dense foods may cause problems for children with allergies–for instance, a child allergic to latex may have a reaction from tomatoes, carrots, bananas, or other healthy foods. Make sure your child’s snacks don’t accidentally trigger an allergy.
7) Make Sure Everyone Brushes Their Teeth
Finally, as mentioned above, brushing your teeth is crucial to good hygiene. But it’s also crucial to your long-term health. Neglecting oral hygiene is a recipe for cavities, gum disease, discomfort, or worse. Encourage your kids to keep their teeth clean by making good choices with their foods and their hygiene habits.
Healthy Kids are Happy Kids!
It’s true that your kids are exposed to a variety of health risks, from germs to poor habits, at school. But as the parent, you can make sure these health risks are kept under control and help your kids stay healthy and strong.
Join the conversation to learn more about encouraging your kids to stay healthy.