From Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and Cook County Public Health and Human Services - September 1, 2021
Whether you’ve got kids headed back to class, or you’ve been out of school for decades, the return of autumn is a great time to pause, check in with yourself, and see if you’ve got any health habits that could do with some polishing up.
And remember: progress, not perfection, is the goal! Small steps can make a big difference.
Be Good To Your Body
- Take COVID-19 seriously. We can increase our chances of having school remain in-person by getting vaccinated and masking up when needed.
- Make sure that everyone in your family is current with their other vaccines too, including the flu shot. This will help avoid other illnesses that make kids miss school.
- Stock up on healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack items, so that prep is easy. Brains work best when they’re well-fueled with protein, whole grain carbs, fruits/veg, and a little fat. Flip this over for tips and recipes.
- How big is that backpack? It should never weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s weight. Make sure the straps are wide and padded, and that it’s worn on both shoulders.
- If at all possible, walk or bike to school or work. (Remember the helmets!) Not only is it a chance to get some activity, it’s a great way to jump-start the day.
Cut Your Brain Some Slack
- Find a quiet, tidy place to space for study. It's easier to focus when both sight and sound “noise” are minimized.
- Set a routine homework time. Whether it’s after snack time, playtime, or dinnertime, set a consistent time for studying.
Make Sleep A Priority
The later nights and mornings of summer may not be a problem June through August, but come September, a good night’s sleep is of prime importance for everyone. People with tired brains don’t learn as well and can find it hard to pay attention.
- Limit screen time and turn them all off at least an hour before bedtime. The light from electronics can interfere with sleep.
- Run the wiggles out during the day. Plenty of physical activity during the day helps young (and older!) bodies rest and recover at night. Kids should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed. As your body cools, it also relaxes.
- Kids need lots of sleep! Children between ages 3-5 years need 10-13 hours a night, ages 6-13 need about 9-11 hours, teens need between 8-10 hours, and adults need 7 -9 hours.
- Cut out caffeine. It has crept into beverages that people of all ages drink. Kids are especially sensitive to caffeine, and it can interfere with their ability to get a good night’s rest.
- Make bedtime “book time” too! This has multiple benefits: it ensures screen-free time before bed, it helps everyone drift off to sleep with positive images; and if you’re reading with your kids, if offers a chance for quiet, peaceful snuggles that reinforce the joy of reading.
For more back-to-school tips, check out: https://healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx
For information on Safe Schools During COVID, visit https://bit.ly/3yj3j9v