Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Healthy Kids: Back-to-School Adjustments

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Healthy Kids: Back-to-School Adjustments

Article excerpt

Helping your kids adjust to the back-to-school routine after summer break can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help your children stay healthy and be prepared to meet the demands of a new school year:

Sleep * For grade school through teenage years, the recommendation is nine to 10 hours of sleep each night. Study after study shows that kids and especially teenagers are not getting enough sleep. One common culprit: electronics (computers, TVs and cellphones) in the bedroom. I recommend shutting off computers and television before bed and removing phones from the bedroom so that kids are not tempted to send text messages during the night. Insufficient sleep can have an impact on every aspect of a child's life mood, behavior, appetite, growth and performance in school. So enforce a firm bedtime because without enough sleep, a child lacks the ability to focus and learn all the information needed to succeed.

Breakfast * Research has shown a strong correlation between eating breakfast and school performance. Children who eat breakfast have better grades and test scores, are better able to focus and concentrate, have fewer behavior problems, and better attendance in school. But with today's busy schedules, it's not surprising that sometimes breakfast is skipped. So how do you make breakfast a priority? You can offer foods that require very little preparation, such as whole-grain cereals, toast, yogurt, instant oatmeal, fruit and string cheese. Even non-traditional breakfast foods in the morning are OK if your child will start the day with some nutrition. The important thing is to provide kids with the fuel they need.

Focus on prevention * Frequent hand-washing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay healthy in school. Teach your children to wash their hands before eating and after using the bathroom, playing outside and blowing their nose. Kids should soap up for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice (20 seconds). Give your children alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep in their backpack for times when soap and water aren't readily available. …

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