By: Dr. Alex Stinard, Emergency Medicine at Central Florida Regional Hospital
Based on recommendations by the Center for Disease Control as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Focus on healthy nutrition practices.
A student’s diet is linked to his/her academic success, so it’s important they consume three balanced meals and two healthy snacks per day. At home, jump start the day by serving them a healthy breakfast, which is associated with improved cognitive function. You can also educate your child on healthy cafeteria choices or enlist their help in packing their own well-rounded school lunches.
Kick start that exercise routine.
Physical activity can help improve cognitive skills, attitudes, concentration, and attention, as well as classroom behavior. Children ages 6 to 17 years old should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.
Prioritize good oral health.
Children with poor oral health, including cavities and gum disease, miss more school and receive lower grades than those with better oral health. To set your student up for success, encourage them to practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing their teeth twice and flossing once each day. Parents should also schedule an annual dental checkup in addition to a student’s yearly health physical.
Make backpack adjustments.
A heavy backpack can lead to muscle strain, particularly if it’s worn inappropriately. Educate your child to use both shoulder straps and adjust the backpack so the bottom sits at their waist. You can also help distribute weight and ensure better posture by packing heavier items closest to the center. When purchasing a new backpack, choose one that has wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back or even a rolling option. Now is also a good time to talk to your student about items that should never be put in a backpack and brought to school, including weapons, valuables, and food allergens.
Establish a consistent bed time
Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement and poor concentration. For younger children, the optimal amount of sleep is 10-12hrs. Adolescents are recommended to clock 8-10hrs each night. To ensure your child does their best each day, set a consistent bedtime – and stick to it. Many parents also create rules about powering down electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime to help their children fall asleep faster and wake more refreshed.
Bonus: Parents can also take time at home to discuss bullying and cyberbullying. Establishing an open line of communication about these challenging topics helps increase the likelihood your child will come to you for help should they ever experience bullying online or in the classroom. These at-home discussions can help make school a safer, healthier place for every child.