School days are upon us and that brings new concerns for our children’s health, concerns regarding backpacks, lunches, starting school, homework/study habits, and hygiene.Here are some helpful tips on how you can promote a healthier, happier school year.
- Backpacks should have wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
- The backpack should never weight more than 10-20% of the child’s weight.
- Both shoulder straps should be used so as not to produce uneven strain on either side of the back.
- Heavier items should be arranged close to the midline of the back.
- Do not ignore back pain in a child.
- If a child develops back pain that doesn’t improve, consider a second set of textbooks to keep at home.
- Consult school menus and consider packing a lunch on days when the menu includes items that your child doesn’t eat.
- Remember that a typical 12-ounce soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can daily increases your child’s risk of obesity by 60%.
For Children Starting School
- Answer any questions about school before classes begin.
- Introduce children to their school and, if possible, to their teacher, in advance.
- If possible, introduce them to classmates before the school year begins.
- Spend time talking with children about what happened in school.
- Make morning preparation as stress-free as possible by laying out books and clothes the night before.
- Let the child know that is normal to be a little anxious about starting school Assign a permanent workspace conducive to doing homework.
Homework and Study Habits
- Schedule enough time for homework.
- Consider prohibiting TV and similar distractions during homework time.
- Supervise computer and internet use.
- Be available for consultation during homework time but do not do the child’s homework.
- Stress hand washing before eating and after using the toilet,blowing the nose, tying the shoes, or playing outside.
- Handwashing should continue for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday Song” twice.
- Give the child an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use whenever washing is unavailable and after using shared computers, pencil sharpeners, or other community objects.
- Remind the child to keep hands away from eyes and out of mouth.
- Stress the importance of not sharing food, water bottles, or other personal items.
So, with these tips in mind, the school year should bring peace of mind to the adults and new growth to the children.
Thomas Falasca, DO
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American Academy of Pediatrics: Back to School Tips http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%253a+No+local+token
American Psychiatric Association