These simple steps can ensure a healthy back-to-school season for your child.
It may seem like just yesterday you stowed away the backpacks and left
for summer vacation, but a new school year is around the corner. That
means it's time for buying school supplies, making sure the kids haven't
outgrown their closed-toe shoes, filling out forms and all the other tasks
that come with going back to school. But don't forget the health and
wellness items that should be on your to-do list.
Give a "green" gift to your child's teacher. Many teachers have wish lists for start-of-school-year classroom supplies.
Find items that can help create a
healthy, environmentally friendly classroom environment, such as nontoxic cleaning supplies to wipe down desks, a class set of
reusable plates and utensils for parties, or paper made from recycled
materials. And instead of an apple for the teacher, give her
an indoor plant, which can help keep the air clean inside the classroom.
Get a reusable water bottle for your child's lunch box. With many campuses starting the school year during the heat of August
and early September, it's crucial to prevent dehydration in kids who
will be spending time outdoors during lunch, recess and P.E. In fact,
a study from the American Journal of Public Health and the Harvard School
of Public Health found
one-quarter of kids ages 6 to 19 didn’t drink water at all during the day. So make sure that when you are assembling the equipment
for your child's lunchbox that you include
a water bottle. Avoid plastic water bottles and opt for a reusable one with attached
spouts for easy sipping. Fill the bottle at night so there's one less
thing to do in the morning to get the kids out the door.
Get proactive--and creative--with making lunches. There's only so many times your child will eat a turkey sandwich before
she'll get bored with it. Compiling a list of creative lunch options
allows you and your child to plan out menus for the week that are filled
with foods your child likes--and that are good for her nutritionally, too.
Consider some of these great ideas.
Buy a better backpack. Just as you have your child try on new school clothes to make sure they
fit before you buy them, you should also have them try on their new backpack.
A backpack that doesn't fit properly, especially when it's weighed
down with books and lunch boxes, can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.
For tips on the ideal backpack fit, check out
Practice "safety first" when it comes to school sports. Young athletes, especially in middle and high school, have many options
when it comes to team sports. But some of those sports (fall football,
anyone?) come with a
risk for concussion. If your child participates in extracurricular sports, make sure you and
your child know the signs of concussion--headaches and memory problems,
for instance--and set the expectation that if there is a concussion your
young player doesn't hit the field again until cleared by a doctor.
Form a class wellness committee. Your child may have food allergies, or you just want to ensure that he
doesn't eat junk food at school. In either case, you'll want to
ask the teacher about food guidelines for
classroom celebrations, such as holiday parties or birthday festivities. If there aren't
any in place, find a few like-minded parents, and you can plan simple
strategies--savory instead of sweet treats, for instance--to keep class
parties healthy but still fun.
Remind your child to wash their hands. With all those kids in one place, a classroom can be a hotbed of germs.
The best way to ward them off is with
good hand-washing techniques. Also helpful: ensuring your child eats a nutritious diet to
build up the immune system.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.