It’s back-to-school season for students across Texas, which means there will be some major adjustments families may need to work through.
Those adjustments do not have to cause a huge disruption in a child’s life or health, if parents learn how they can help their student get situated ahead of time.
A big change for children as they make the switch from summer mode to school is their sleep. The demands of back-to-school schedules can make getting adequate sleep seem daunting. However, it is possible and essential for a calmer, more productive school year.
“The best piece of advice is to unplug,” said Dr. Loren Robinson, chief medical officer at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. “Having quiet and dark time as you settle in for the night allow your brain and body to relax and reset in preparation for sleep.”
Robinson recommends school age children get 10-12 hours of sleep per night, and says to wind down with a quiet, screen-free activities such as singing or reading to help calm the mind before sleep.
She also says adequate exercise can also play a key role in child development.
“For elementary school children, an afterschool fitness activity such as basketball, t-ball, swimming, or track and field can be a great way to stay healthy and burn off extra energy,” Robinson said. “As children and young adults transition into competitive activities, it helps develop not only physically healthy habits, but also habits that support healthy emotional development.”
Along with sleep and exercise, Dr. Courtney Smith, a pediatrician with CHRISTUS Children’s, says there are some key elements to keep in mind: a healthy diet, good hygiene, stress management, staying hydrated and remaining up to date on vaccinations.
“All of these play a vital role in keeping our little ones healthy, so it’s important to ensure we’re loading them up on nutrient rich food that will provide them with the necessary vitamins to help fight germs,” Smith said. “But we need to also continue teaching our children to properly wash their hands frequently and to stay home when they’re feeling ill.”
Another back-to-school tip involved kids wearing their backpacks correctly, to avoid any damage to their spines.
“Back packs are heavy, and to ensure that your muscles and bones stay healthy, parents and students need to focus on not overloading your backpack,” Robinson said. “Talk with your children about only bringing home only the items they need for their assignments that evening and, if your school allows, consider a rolling backpack.”
Robinson also added that even when the fall season comes, the heat is here to stay, so hydration is important.
“Instead of sending sugary juices and drinks to school, consider sending a thermos or bottle with cold water that they can refill throughout the day,” Robinson said. “A hydrated body is a happy and healthy body.”
To learn more back-to-school tips, visit www.christushealth.org