Cue the school bells… class is in session! For many families across the U.S., children are returning to school and a brand new academic year is beginning. Gone are the long summer nights where it’s okay to stay up late and the days where sleeping in is considered the norm. It’s time for your child to get back into school mode, and sending them off with a healthful foundation is key!
Back to School: Health Matters
As adults, we understand the importance of good health. Feeling good both mentally and physically helps us excel in our careers, higher education, finances, family roles and health journeys. As the responsibilities pile up, it becomes increasingly important for us to have a solid healthy foundation to stand upon. That means eating balanced and nutritious foods, exercising often, getting enough sleep (experts recommend seven to eight hours each night), practicing self-care, finding a work/life balance and handling stress.
What happens when we don’t have these things? We feel fatigued, unmotivated, unfocused, burned out, frustrated and oftentimes lost. While those feelings often seem like the norm in today’s high-paced society, many of us forget that simply paying more attention to our health can alleviate them. Now, imagine what this feels like for your children.
Children require a healthy foundation to be successful in school just as adults require one to be successful while we juggle adulthood responsibilities. If you want your child to excel academically, strive for goals, participate in extracurricular activities and thrive during the school year, you as a parent should be prepared to help them lay that healthy foundation.
Healthy Tips for the School Year
Consider these tips to give your child a great start to the school year and help them achieve happiness, success and productivity all year long – before and after the school bells ring:
- Have a Breakfast Plan – A healthy, balanced breakfast offers energy and focus for the school day. If you’re up early and have the time to prepare breakfast, that’s a great boost for your child. If mornings are short-circuited in your household, consider meal planning with healthy grab-and-go options available to take in the car or on the school bus.
- Set a Curfew – Sleep is critical for optimal performance. Your child has to be up early, so make sure they’re going to bed with enough time to establish a healthy seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Setting a bed time or curfew can help.
- Encourage Regular Exercise – Maybe your child is into school sports. But if they aren’t, it can be tricky to juggle the demands of homework with the need for regular activity. Try getting active as a family on the weeknights and weekends.
- Brown-bag the Good Stuff – School lunches and snacks can sometimes be questionable. If you’re concerned about your child’s nutrition, send them to school with healthy options such as fruits, veggies, whole-grain snacks and plenty of water.
- Speak Words of Encouragement – School can be stressful! Always speak words of encouragement to your child and let them know you believe in their ability to succeed. Words of confidence can go a long way and promote a year of hard work and dedication.
- Schedule a Pediatric Appointment – Make sure your child is in optimal health by setting an appointment for them to see their pediatrician. This will likely include a physical exam and possibly even vaccinations. If they want to participate in a physical extracurricular activity, make sure their health is cleared beforehand.
- Encourage Communication – Your child is growing up and reaching independence. Sometimes this can feel isolating. Let them know you’re always here to talk, listen to their concerns and support them on their academic and social journey.
When your child is at home and spending much of their time in your proximity, it’s easier to keep an eye on their physical and mental health. But when they’re away at school for eight hours a day or more, you have to be more observant. Do what you can to make sure they start the school year off with optimal physical and mental health. And once the honeymoon phase of a new school year has passed, don’t forget to follow through and keep your guard up.