Five ways to keep your kids healthy at school this year
With term one well and truly underway, we look at some simple ways you can help your school-aged children stay well this year.
It’s back to school time and a return to the A, B, Cs for our kids.
Unfortunately, it can also mean a return to germs, illnesses and poor health, too.
We take a look at the five best ways to keep your kids fighting fit this year.
Encourage a healthy diet
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s essential that kids arrive at school with brekky under their belts.
Not only does it give them energy to stay active but it also helps them concentrate, too.
A bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk and some fresh fruit is an ideal day starter.
Ensure your child also has a healthy lunch and snacks.
A sandwich or pita bread with lean protein and salad is an ideal option, as are cut up raw vegies and fresh fruits, and crackers with cheese or hummus.
Try to avoid processed meats, chips, sweet biscuits, fruit or muesli bars and cordials or juices. And, of course, be mindful of allergies and avoid packing any nuts as part of their lunch or snack.
Running around with their friends at recess and lunch time, it’s easy for kids to go a whole day without drinking anything.
This can lead to dehydration and in some situations, headaches and nausea. It can also affect concentration and behaviour.
Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated and it’s also the healthiest option.
It’s recommended children drink about five glasses of water (five to eight year olds), seven glasses (nine to 12 years) and eight to 10 glasses (13-plus years).
Keep them active
Kids love having fun and playing, but once they’re back at school and focused on learning, it can often mean more work and less play – meaning less time for them to be physically active.
It’s recommended kids do at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Encouraging your child to be active on a daily basis helps set them up for a healthy life.
Some of the benefits of physical activity include improved cardiovascular fitness, improved posture, better sleep patterns, increased self-esteem and improved concentration. It also helps them be more social by making new friends, while learning the importance of teamwork, problem solving, communication and empathy.
Bring on healthy sleeping habits
If the summer holidays have thrown your child’s bedtime routine out of whack, now is the time to get them back into a healthy sleep routine – and pronto.
Research shows children aged 6-13 need about 9-11 hours of sleep each night.
While each child will have their own rest needs, if they‘re waking up sleepy or grumpy in the morning, it means they probably need more.
Keep a regular bedtime routine, ie pyjamas, teeth, book and bed; and ensure they relax before going to sleep. And switch off any electronics, such as the TV or games, at least an hour before bed. Not only does technology stimulate their brains, the artificial light tricks their brains into staying alert.
Finally, create a relaxing environment for them to sleep in.
Help them with their personal hygiene
With most classrooms awash with germs of all shapes and sizes, it is a good idea to remind your child to keep on top of their personal hygiene.
The key is hand washing – after touching communal books, playing outside and going to toilet. And if your child does have a cold, teach them to not to share by sneezing into their elbow or covering their mouth and nose with a tissue to help stop germs spreading. And don’t forget to remind them to put their dirty tissues in the bin!
Aside from coughs and colds, the other bug you don’t need shared is head lice.
Lice spread easily, especially if your little one is not fussed about personal space.
Teach them to keep their heads away from their friends and remind them not to share helmets, combs and hair accessories.
If your child has long hair, keep it tied up to help prevent lice from spreading easily. Use a preventative treatment to keep the bugs away (you can shop for lice treatments at Chemist Warehouse). It’s also a good idea to regularly check your child’s hair for any sign of lice.