5 Important Back to School Health Tips
At VNA, we are passionate about all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Beyond hospice and palliative care, we are proud to offer wellness services, like flu vaccinations and wellness scans, to help keep our St. Louis community happy and healthy!
Particularly as kids return back to school, we stress the importance of helping kids stay healthy. Studies have shown that healthy students are also better learners. Eating well and participating in regular physical activity not only have health benefits, but also have been linked to better academic achievement by enhancing important skills like concentration and attentiveness.
From sleep routines to vaccinations, we encourage all parents participating in our wellness services to consider these five basic tips to help their kids stay healthy in and out of school.
Encourage healthy eating:
This may come as no surprise, but eating better foods is an important component to living a healthier life. We encourage parents to focus on packing healthier snacks and lunches for their children. While highly processed foods may be convenient, the added salt and sugar does little to aid in a child’s health. Switch out junk food with whole grains and lean protein. Or, try swapping fruit juice with actual fruit. Small changes can go a long way for your child’s health.
Establish a sleep routine:
Especially during the transition from summer months to school months, sleep routines are incredibly helpful in ensuring your child gets enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation provides guidelines for the amount of sleep children should get at different ages, but on average it’s good to aim for about 8 to 10 hours. About an hour before bedtime, we encourage limiting the use of electronic devices and avoiding time in front of any type of screen; reading a book is better right before bed. A bedtime snack can be helpful, but be sure to avoid caffeine.
Visit the doctor:
The back to school season is the perfect time for a child’s annual check up and physical. It is always helpful to schedule these visits in the week’s preceding the start of school, but no matter when they happen, it is important to ensure children visit the doctor at least once a year. Dentist visits, hearing tests, and vision tests are also a part of this annual wellness check.
Avoid heavy backpacks:
It is important to help keep children’s backpacks light. Most doctors and physical therapists recommend that kids carry no more than 10-15 percent of their body weight in their backpacks. Doctors also recommend that children wear backpacks on both shoulders to avoid any sort of muscle strain. Talk to teachers to learn ways to help lighten the backpack load; it is also a good idea to see if a school allows rolling backpacks for students who have a lot to carry.
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!:
Children are required to have certain vaccinations current before entering schools; annual check-ups will help ensure that children are up to date and prepared for the coming school year. However, we suggest parents familiarize themselves with the vaccinations their children need. The American Academy of Pediatricians has a complete list of vaccinations listed per age group, which is a great resource.
Finally, we encourage parents to consider scheduling a flu vaccination for their child(ren). Vaccinating is the number one way to prevent the flu. Children come into contact with many different germs in the classroom, so we stress the importance of taking every step to help them stay healthy. In fact, we will be offering flu vaccinations in 13 community locations this fall. If you are interested in getting a flu vaccination for your child, be sure to find a location near you!