August 31, 2023
7 Tips for a Successful Start to the School Year from Your School Nurse
Welcome back to the 2023-2024 school year! We missed you! As we dive into the year, we wanted to share a few tips for having a successful, healthy transition. Students must be healthy to be educated and educated to be healthy!
1. Create a routine!
Family routines help life run smoothly and help children feel safe, develop life skills, and build healthy habits. A good routine is well planned, regular and predictable. Routines for kids may include morning and night routines, after school activities, spending time with family and friends, chores, homework, and family dinner together.
2. Make sleep a priority!
Sleep is a time for the body’s energy to be restored and for a child’s body to recharge. According to the CDC, elementary aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep. Ways to encourage better sleep include sticking to a regular bedtime and establishing a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine may include taking a warm bath or shower, brushing teeth, doing some light stretching, reading a book, writing in a journal, meditating, and listening to quiet music. It is recommended to turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime.
3. Eat a balanced diet!
Eating healthy improves mood, helps us feel better, and decreases the chance of obesity and other chronic illnesses. It is important to offer kids a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests providing a variety of foods, connecting at mealtime, and making nutrition easy. This may include having healthy snacks at hand and on a shelf that is accessible. Ideas of healthy snacks include yogurt, trail mix, popcorn, cottage cheese, fruit smoothie, hard boiled eggs, raisins, veggies and hummus, energy balls, crackers and nut butter, and peanut butter and banana quesadilla. It may be helpful to get your child involved with planning meals as well as shopping and assisting with food preparation. And lastly, offer water and low-fat dairy drinks or other alternatives. Avoid sugary drinks that fill them up but do not provide any nutrients.
4. Stay active!
Regular physical activity can help students improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as reduce the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americnas recommends that children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. Benefits of students who are physically active include better grades, school attendance, improved memory and classroom behaviors.
Ways to stay active include:
- Going for walks
- Playing at the park
- Joining an organized sport through the recreation department or school
- Going for a bike ride
- Participating in physical education class
5. Reduce screen time!
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that the average children ages 8-12 in the US spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens and teens spend up to 9 hours. As we know, screens have a variety of benefits, but too much can lead to problems. Examples include sleep problems, lower grades, less time with family and friends, weight gain, mood problems, and poor self and body image.
Tips for safe tcreen time:
- Actively decide the appropriate age and maturity level to give your child a device
- Turn off screens during family meals and outings
- Learn about and use parental controls
- Avoid using screens to stop tantrums
- Turn off screens and remove from bedrooms before bedtime
- Talk to your children about what they are seeing
- Set a good example with your own safe and healthy screen habits
- Encourage your child to learn other activities such as sports, music, art, and hobbies that do not involve screens
- Teach your child about online privacy and safety
- Encourage using screens in a ways that build creativity and connection with family and friends
6. Manage stress!
The world is a hard place to navigate. It is our responsibility as grown ups to help our youth learn how to manage stress and anxiety.
Signs of stress and anxiety:
- Trouble sleeping, tired
- Stomach aches
- Behavior changes
Ways to help manage stress:
- Have open communication
- Model healthy coping skills
- Encourage positive relationships
- Get good sleep
- Eat nutrition foods
- Physical activity
- Predictable schedules
- Go outside
- Make time for fun and relaxation
- Practice mindfulness
7. Maintain your health!
- Get a yearly physical with your primary care provider
- Stay up to date on recommended vaccines
- Get your flu shot
- Brush your teeth, go to the dentist, and get your teeth cleaned twice a year
- Wash your hands frequently
- Stay home if you’re feeling ill
Aacap. (2022, February). Screen Time and Children. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-And-Watching-TV-054.aspx
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). How to help children and teens manage their stress. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/children/stress
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, July 26). Physical activity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm#:~:text=Regular%20physical%20activity%20can%20help,developing%20health%20conditions%20such%20as%3A&text=Heart%20disease.,Cancer.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, July 25). Anxiety and depression in children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/depression.html#:~:text=Anxiety%20may%20present%20as%20fear,the%20symptoms%20can%20be%20missed.
Family routines: How and why they work. Raising Children Network. (2023, April 5). https://raisingchildren.net.au/grown-ups/family-life/routines-rituals-relationships/family-routines
Healthy eating for kids. MyPlate. (n.d.). https://www.myplate.gov/tip-sheet/healthy-eating-kids