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Back to School: Tips for a Safe, Healthy School Year

by Jose Crespo, M.D., Medical Director of Emergency Services, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare

As summer break comes to a close and children return to school this month, keep in mind the importance of establishing a healthy routine that includes safe habits, a well-balanced diet and plenty of sleep.

Before the hustle and bustle of schoolwork and extracurricular activities begin, consider discussing these health and safety tips with your family.

Safety:

  • Whether it’s by foot, bicycle or vehicle, remain alert at all times, and obey all traffic rules. Children riding the bus should wait until the bus stops before approaching it and always board/exit the bus at designated locations. Children bicycling to school should wear a snug-fitting helmet and reflective gear.

  • Children should avoid carrying extremely heavy backpacks and always use both straps to evenly distribute the weight. Typically, the backpack should not weigh more than 10 percent of the child’s body weight.

Eat well and stay hydrated:

  • Make sure your child maintains a well-balanced, nutritious diet comprised of protein, grains, veggies, fruit and sources of calcium. Start the day off with a wholesome breakfast, and pack a lunch full of nutritious options—or educate your children about healthy choices in the lunch line.

  • Keep children hydrated by sending a water bottle to school. Experts recommend children and teenagers consume approximately two to three quarts of water a day.

A good night’s rest:

  • Adequate sleep greatly improves behavior, attention span and memory. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends children ages 6 to 12 should sleep 9 to 12 hours per day, and teenagers 13 to 18 should sleep 8 to 10 hours per day.

  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine; turn off the TV and put away media devices at least an hour before bedtime.

Instilling these habits can ensure children’s safety, give them more energy and sharpen their minds, making them more productive and present at school.

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