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Make the Grade with these 5 Back-to-School Health Tips

After more than a year of virtual and hybrid learning, most schools are reopening for in-person education this fall.

While many students are eager to return to their classrooms and their friends, the 2021 back-to-school season will still be a new, and in many ways nervous, experience for many families.

The following five back-to-school health tips can help us all to do our best – together:

  1. Mask up and practice good hygiene: Children should wear a fresh mask to school every day, and have a backup available in a clean, resealable bag for storage during lunch and snack breaks.

Additionally, talk to children – of all ages – about:

  • Placing their masks over the mouth AND nose, making sure it is secure under the chin.
  • Making sure your child can breathe easily and that the mask fits snugly against the face.
  • Washing their hands regularly after meals.
  • Never ever trading masks.

Be sure to label masks for young children, so they are not mistaken for someone else’s.

  1. Watch their backs! Every big box store has plenty of stylish packs to choose from – but make sure the backpack you buy is well padded, with wide straps. Before your child’s first day at school, make sure to organize the backpack. A little strategy goes a long way. Place heavier items closest to the center – and packed so that the weight is no more than 20% of your child’s body weight. Urge your kids to use both straps, as a slung backpack can cause undue strain. When allowed, rolling backpacks can be a huge help and a healthier option.
  2. You are what you eat: Well, not necessarily – but the importance of a nutritious diet during and after the school day should not be underestimated. Eating a balanced breakfast has been proven to increase energy and acuity levels. Also remember low-fat dairy products, plenty of water, and fresh fruit for the lunch pail, and be sure to peruse the school’s cafeteria schedule to make certain it meets USDA standards.
  3. Lights out! It cannot be stressed enough – a good night’s sleep is integral to a successful school outing. Without sufficient snoozing time, your child’s focus and concentration ultimately suffer. Experts recommend 10-12 hours for younger children and 8-10 for adolescents. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to establish a consistent bedtime and stick to it, no matter what. Routine is essential. Start with a story and a regular tuck-in time for younger kids and put the electronics and screens away at least an hour or two before bedtime.
  4. Talk it out. Everything is new all over again. Children of all ages will undoubtedly have a lot of feelings about things, regardless of whether they voice them each and every day. Encourage your kids to talk to teachers and staff when they need help, for any reason, no matter how simple – from getting directions around campus to getting help with a new, or old, subject.

Additionally, talk to your children about how they are feeling, and reiterate how it is OK for them to share their thoughts if they are experiencing stress or anxiety or feelings of depression. Engage school counselors when possible. And express how proud you are for how they have navigated the last year and a half.

A new school year is always daunting in different ways. But by considering these back-to-school health tips, and taking the necessary steps, we can help to make the back-to-school season a safe, healthy, and successful one. First Call Medical Center is here to help in any way we can. Our team provides compassionate care whenever you are feeling ill or have an injury.