BY LINDA STEVENSON, PhD, RN, FNP-C, PEDIAQ SENIOR NURSE PRACTITIONER
Another school year is beginning; here are some tips to get off to a great start.
Health & Wellness:
- The most effective way to avoid catching or spreading germs is with hand washing.
- When hand washing is not available hand sanitizers are a good alternative. But after using the restroom hand washing is essential since some bacteria such as Clostridium difficile are not removed with hand sanitizers.
- After using hand sanitizer 3 times in a row the next time should be to wash hands.
- One of the dirtiest areas in school according to the Center for Disease Control is the water fountain and the next is the non-disposable lunch tray. It is a good idea to pack hand sanitizer wipes in your child’s lunch box.
- Children who are ill with fever should be kept home until fever free for 24 hours.
- Be sure the school nurse and teacher are aware of any conditions your child may have such as asthma or a seizure disorder, and that the nurse has a written plan of action for any problems.
- If your child who has always been attentive at school suddenly seems to not be following the teacher have their eyes checked.
- Teach your new kindergarten child to cough in the crook of their arm.
- Good sleep is essential to good school performance Elementary school age need 8-10 hours a night and teens should have 9 to 10 hours.
- Backpacks should have wide padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- They should not weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s body weight when full.
- Your child should always use both shoulder straps; using one can strain muscles.
- For older children check into a rolling backpack if they carry a heavy book load. Check to see if your school allows this and if the locker will accommodate it. Also remember it might have to be carried up stairs which is awkward with a rolling bag.
- All passengers should wear a seat belt.
- Children should ride in a belt-positioning booster with a harness until the car seat belt fits properly – usually when your child reaches 4 feet 9 inches tall and is between 8 and 12 years of age.
- All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of a vehicle.
- Be aware of your state laws for teen drivers and consider a parent-teen driver agreement. A sample parent-teen driver agreement can be found at: www.healthychildren.org/teendriver
School Day Nutrition:
- Children who eat a nutritious breakfast do better in school, are able to concentrate and have more energy.
- Check out your child’s cafeteria menus so you can anticipate any days when you or your child feels that the meal is not what either of you prefer. Then you can make a lunch.
- Know what is in the vending machines at your child’s school. Work through your PTA and school administration to promote healthy selections in the vending machines.
- Remember a soda a day increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60%. Sodas contain 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- According to the Academy of Pediatrics bullying is when one child picks on another repeatedly, verbally, physically or socially. It can occur anywhere – at school, in the neighborhood, on the Internet or through their mobile device.
- Teach your child to ask a trusted adult for help.
- Make sure the school principal, counselor and teacher are aware of the problem and can look out for your child.
- If your child is the bully be sure that they know that bullying is never okay. Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
Healthy habits keep children’s immune systems strong; that includes exercise, healthy diet and adequate sleep.