Tips for a Healthy “Return to Learn” this School Year
Normally, August brings the excitement of “back to school” with kids eager to reunite with friends, meet new teachers, and shop for school supplies. Yet this year is anything but normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way our children will return to learn this fall. School administrators and nurses have spent countless hours preparing the school environment and developing new protocols, prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff. Parents can reinforce these measures at home by role-modeling behaviors such as frequent hand washing, wearing masks in public, and avoiding large gatherings and crowds.
Regardless of our focus on COVID-19 prevention, keeping kids healthy and ready to learn is essential and important. Get your children off to a good start with these key health tips:
Schedule health check-ups. If you haven’t done so already, your child may need a check-up with the doctor and dentist. It may also be time for an eye exam as good vision is essential for learning. Are immunizations up to date? Iowa law requires vaccine boosters prior to kindergarten, 7th grade and 12th grade. Shots aren’t fun, but are important to the health of your child and other students. A healthy child is ready to learn!
Create a routine. For most kids, summer break means staying up late, carefree days, and little scheduled time. It can be difficult to get back in the swing of a routine. However, routines are so important for children to give them a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline.
Get plenty of rest. Bedtime is a perfect example of when a routine and schedule is needed. A good day at school starts with a good night of sleep. One routine with multiple benefits is reading. Bedtime is the perfect time to read to your child or have them read to you. Remember that electronics (cell phones, computers, TVs) can negatively affect the ease of falling asleep and getting quality sleep. The amount of sleep needed will vary among children.
Guidelines based on age are:
- Preschool: 10-13 hours
- Elementary: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers: 8-10 hours
Eat healthy! A healthy, balanced diet is vital to fuel the brain and keep the immune system strong. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast and consuming few fruits and vegetables leads to lower grades and higher absenteeism. Kids do better in school with more energy and concentration if they start their day with a good breakfast. In addition, healthy eating and regular physical activity play a powerful role in preventing obesity and chronic diseases later in life.
Be active! Kids need a minimum an hour of physical activity daily. As with proper nutrition, students who are physically active tend to have better grades and classroom behaviors. Walking or biking to school is a great way to encourage activity!
Remember that returning to school this year may not feel like normal – at least for a while, but having proper health and safety plans in place and helping our schools provide the resources needed to follow them can assist in protecting students, teachers, staff, and families in our community.