Back to School: 10 Ways To Look After Your Children’s Health During the School Year
Most schools around the country have reopened, and millions of children – and their families – are getting ready for the big return to school. However, also because of the pandemic and the time spent indoors, we all have a heightened sense of what health and wellbeing are. And, the ways we look after our loved ones have changed.
Whether you and your little ones are excited for the reopening of schools or you are living this experience with fear and doubt, there are some steps you need to take to ensure that your child can live a healthy and safe experience. Of course, the first step is always to get in touch with a healthcare professional or pediatrician – the tips below are only a starting point!
Stay Up to Date With Proper Health Measures for your Child
Kids of all ages have gone through a cycle of vaccinations and boosters through the years. As you may know, the one vaccine everyone is talking about today – the Covid-19 vaccine – is still out of reach for children. This is due to many reasons, but something you as a parent can research and decide for yourself.
At the same time, there are other ways to protect your child’s health through the right health methods. In fact, your little one can still be infected without showing symptoms. Keeping up to date with proper health measures allows your children to be protected against other infections that might debilitate the immune system. Only you know your child the best and what is needed.
Encourage Them To Stay Active
There is nothing quite like an immune system booster as leading an active life! Usually, for kids, it is not so much of a problem to let off steam, exercise, and take part in games and activities. However, the past months have radically changed this, causing kids and their families to resort to walks in nearby parks or strolls at the beach.
However, now that social activities are accessible again, make sure you encourage them to keep a healthier and active lifestyle. Some tips for this include:
- Encourage them to get a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day of physical activity. This does not have to happen in one session!
- Focus on family activities. From hiking to walking, and playing sports in the backyard, there are plenty of activities that can keep everyone in the family healthy.
- Encourage them to help out with home chores, such as gardening, walking the dog, or vacuuming.
- Plan active vacations
- Instill healthy habits such as limited screen time, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking for a section of the commute, and practicing sports at home.
It All Starts at the Table
In the United States, 14.4 million children are obese – a number that accounts for over 21% of kids between 12 and 19 years old. There are many lifestyles and genetic factors related to this percentage, but there are also many ways in which you can help your children avoid obesity.
After all, being overweight can affect their health in several ways. In fact, obesity has been linked to chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes, and can lead to severe mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
At the same time, this is a crucial time for them to build a healthy and balanced relationship with food and their body. Some tips to look after your children’s health at a table include:
- Eat together as a family and take time eating
- Start the day preparing a nutritious, unprocessed breakfast
- Don’t ban junk food altogether, as this can cause cravings.
- Encourage your kids to plan and prepare at least one meal a week.
- Drink plenty of fluid, choosing water or low-calorie drinks
- Serve a variety of foods in small portions
- Avoid cooking foods in vegetable oil or butter. Choose to steam it, bake it, or broil it.
- Snacks are an important diet of a children’s diet, but make sure you are opting for nutritious, healthy, and unprocessed ones.
Lastly, it has never been as important to focus on a plant-based, whole-food diet. This is easier than it seems: just include plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains in your diet, while cutting out animal products such as meat and dairy.
Ask About the School’s Health Measures
Boosting your children’s immune systems is essential – but understanding how the environment protects them is essential. Speak to the school administration to understand what their requirements are for children and what and measures have been put in place.
You will find that most schools are promoting wearing a mask indoors, social distancing measures, and additional sanitation stations around the premises. Some schools might also opt to hold some classes in-person and some remotely. Make sure you are aware of this schedule and decide what is best for your child.
Instill the Right Hygiene Habits
Hygiene is essential for kids, and there are many types of routines to keep up with. For example, oral and personal hygiene is essential to prevent diseases and infections that can weaken the immune system and cause long-term health issues.
At the same time, today has never been so important for children to understand the importance of handwashing and sanitizing to protect themselves, their families, and their friends from any germs and sickness. Make sure that they understand the importance of such a simple action by giving them the right example.
Learn More About Allergies They Might Have
An increasing number of children around the world suffer from allergies – and the percentage affected by food allergies has skyrocketed. While these can also develop later in life, most kids already display the allergies they will deal with for the rest of their lives.
In turn, you can start testing for allergies in advance, thus taking the right cautions. For example, if your children are allergic to peanuts, you can make different arrangements with the school for their meals.
Find more information about allergies from Allergy Insider and make sure to know what your little ones are allergic to so that you can protect them from side effects such as anaphylactic shock and severe asthma attacks.
Sleep Is Important!
For kids, sleeping is not being lazy – it is a vital aspect of their lives! Through sleep, the body replenishes the energy used, repairs any damages that happen during the day, fights infection, and restores the immune system.
However, for many children establishing the right sleeping pattern can represent a struggle. If you have noticed that your little ones are going to sleep later, spend a lot of time in front of a screen, or they are sleepy and fatigued during the day, insist on sleep and help them regain their balance.
Bear in mind that kids require much more sleep than adults – depending on their age, they might need between 9 and 14 hours of sleep per night!
Invest in the Right Clothing
While this is not something that many parents think about, it can truly help you prevent or lessen skin conditions. Instead of choosing by brand, opt for clothes that are natural and organic, thus avoiding pesticides, chemicals, and dyes that can disrupt the growing skin microbiome of your little ones.
When choosing clothing items, make sure to pick floatier and more breathable alternatives that let the skin breathe and maintain its balanced ecosystem.
Ask Your Doctor for Child-Friendly Supplements
Your kids are growing and they need the right nutrients, minerals, and vitamins to support their growth and development. Most nutrients are accessible via a nutritious and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Nonetheless, there could be some vitamins that are harder to find and replenish. This has also been made worse by the several lockdowns and social distancing measures, during which kids had to spend most of their time indoors and away from their peers.
If you are concerned about their health and development, make sure to speak to your doctor to understand what child-friendly supplements can help them.
Their Mental Health Is Just As Important!
The pandemic has created unprecedented mental health challenges for kids around the world. During the past months, kids were away from their peers, spent time indoors, and had limited interactions with new experiences and environments. Because of this, many kids have had to deal with a great variety of emotions, including loneliness, depression, anxiety, and grief.
At the same time, their mental health is tightly linked to their physical well-being – so, if you have noticed that your little ones have started to struggle with their emotions, feelings, or social interactions, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.
Encourage Them To Spend Time With Friends
There is no doubt that homeschooling can be fun, entertaining, and extremely educational – for some families, this is a choice that makes sense.
However, returning to school for them can represent an important moment of their growth and development. If you have noticed that your little ones are building a group of friends and are interested in a variety of activities, encourage them to interact and engage. Oppositely, if they seldom show interest, make sure to provide them with a large variety of options.
For example, joining a football club, taking part in drama classes, creating crafts, or volunteering. Groups and associations such as Boy and Girl Scouts can represent exciting alternatives.
*This article is based on personal suggestions and/or experiences and is for informational purposes only. This should not be used as professional advice. Please consult a professional where applicable.