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6 Back to School Health Tips

August 18, 2016 | Dr. Karen La Salle

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Back-to-School.jpgIs the lunch box packed? What should my child wear to school? What activities are going on this week? What does my child need for school?

These are many thoughts that cross almost every parent’s mind before the first day of school. It may seem impossible to get everything done before the first day of school, but if you take the right steps, the first day will be a breeze.

1. Screen Time

Many times during the summer, free time is filled with watching television and playing video games. While summer is a time to relax and have a little fun, too much screen time can be harmful to a child. Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has found that too much screen time may “undermine learning for babies and young children” and result in irregular sleep patterns and increased risks for obesity. As the summer ends, try gearing down the amount of screen time your child has per day.

2. Homework Area

Creating a study area devoted to studying can be beneficial to children because many times students are susceptible to getting off task. Using a stagnant study area can help your child stay focused and on task because of the way that our brain associates locations with specific activities. Here are three items that make for a good study location:

  • Free of Distractions - If a child is in the vicinity of things like video games or televisions, the temptations may quickly get them off task.
  • Good Space - Trying to study or work on homework can become a hassle when you are restricted in a small area. Find an area in your house that has an open space for your child to be able to spread out and organize their work.
  • Never the Bed - Though studying on a bed may seem to be an optimal location because of its comfort, a bed is one of the worst places to work. If you study in a bed, your brain will associate that area with “work” and will unintentionally make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

If you find an ideal location in your home for your child to work on homework, stick with it for the year, unless a problem arises. In addition, create a homework schedule for your child to help them stay on task. Having them start on homework every day at the same early time will benefit them in the long run instead of them cramming it in late at night. A good work ethic goes a long way in school, so start your child off with a plan for the year.

Taking breaks are also important. If a child works too long on homework, they may become worn out quickly and will start to resent studying and possibly school altogether. It is recommended that student takes a 10-15 minute break from studying every hour or so. In addition to giving the student rest, this also allows their brain to sort through all of the information that was just learned.

3. Vaccinations

Vaccinations keep both your child and other children safe. By taking your child to get vaccinated, you are saving them from many harmful diseases. Click here for a list of vaccinations that your child should have before they start school.

4. Sleep

Summer is usually seen as the time to stay up late and wake up late. This tends to become an issue when coming back to school because kids many times cannot adjust to the new schedule that quickly. To prepare your child for the early autumn mornings, use the week before school starts to slowly adjust them to the new schedule. By pushing up their bedtime by around half an hour every night, they will adjust to waking up earlier. Also, the day before school starts, try to have them wake up as if it were the first day of school. Most importantly, make sure your child is getting around 9-10 hours of sleep every night.

5. Go over rules and plans

During the summer, many rules and schedules used in the school year do not apply. To make readjusting to a school schedule easier, go over schedules with your child the week before. Making a list tailored to your child’s life can help them readjust better, as well as help you manage the changes. Important things to remember to review before school starts are:

6. Family Time

Between running to see the school play, or helping with a science project that is due tomorrow, finding time for family during the school year can be a struggle. Take a day or even just an evening within a few days before school starts to enjoy time together. Have a cookout, go to the park, have a family movie night, or find another activity that fits your family’s agenda.

By applying these back to school health tips, your child will be better prepared for school throughout the whole year.

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