Six Tips for a Healthy School Year

Heading back to school is exciting – kids meet their new teacher, socialize with their friends, start learning new skills and acquiring knowledge. Unfortunately they will also be exposed to germs in the classroom, on the playground or field. In these group settings, germs tend to spread quickly and cause illness.

Parents can help reduce the risk of common childhood illnesses by following these six tips that will keep their children’s immune systems strong for a healthy school year:

1. Practice regular handwashing.
This is the easiest, most effective way to stay healthy. Be sure your child knows to wash their hands for as long as it takes to sing the “happy birthday” song:

  • Before eating a meal or snack
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose
  • After playing outside

Tip: Give your child alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep at their desk and in their backpacks. When handwashing is not possible, they should use hand sanitizer before eating snacks or lunch and after using shared objects like a computer, pencil sharpener or water fountain.

2. Keep hands away from the face.
Even with great handwashing habits, remind children to keep their hands away from their eyes and out of their mouths. Mucous membranes are the perfect place for germs to enter the body and cause respiratory infections. If they need to sneeze or cough, teach them to cough or sneeze into their arm.

3. Eat a healthy diet.
A nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner will help prevent fatigue, improve brain function, aid digestion, help with weight maintenance and improve mood. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Promote healthy drink choices like water and milk, skipping sugary fruit juices. Limit or eliminate sugar-sweetened and caffeinated beverages.

4. Don’t share drinks and food.
Teach children to not share water bottles, food or other personal items.

5. Get 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
Hopefully children have physical education at school, or they are part of a team with regular practices and games. If not, a physical activity like riding a bike or a family walk will get your child outside and moving. Regular exercise will help with better sleep, stress release, improved behavior, improved performance at school and better health overall.

Additional resources: https://www.cpcmg.net/make-exercise-a-healthy-habit/

6. Follow a consistent sleep schedule.
Sleep affects behavior and the ability to fight off infections. Lack of sleep can result in mood swings, tiredness and an increased risk of infection. A bedtime routine gives the body time to wind down and prepare for quality sleep.

Additional resources: https://www.cpcmg.net/the-benefits-of-better-sleep-for-kids/