Back to School Tips
Book bags, lunch boxes and school supplies, Oh my! Back to school season is officially here. These are a few tips on making the transition from summer break to school routines a little easier for parents and kiddos alike.
1) It can be very difficult to get children to eat balanced meals during the school year. Whether you opt to pack your child’s lunch, or allow them to eat cafeteria meals, finding nutritious options are often a challenge. However, good nutrition is an integral component to ensuring your child’s success this school year and limiting frequency of sick days. Providing a wholesome breakfast and packing a healthful lunch will help to keep your child focused on school tasks and limit fatigue and irritability. Make your best effort to reduce sugar-laden snacks and foods in your child’s diet. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and has been shown in clinical trials to suppress immunity. Sugar affects behavior by creating blood sugar spikes commonly known as a “sugar high.” The high glucose content in sugar and refined carbohydrates cause adrenaline levels to rise and trigger a period of hyperactivity, distractibility and poor concentration. Shortly after the “sugar high” your child will experience the “crash.” During which blood glucose levels drop rapidly causing a period of sluggishness, irritability and decreased movement. Creating healthful food habits at a young age is crucial for long-term health and can limit risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes in the future.
2) Start the year off right with routines. Routines provide a number of important benefits such as order and structure, which in turn provide security and consistency and can lessen anxiety. When children know what is expected of them daily challenges like power struggles, temper tantrums and arguments can be reduced. Be sure that when setting routines, you are clear and consistent; too much leniency undermines the structure of a routine and lessens its effectiveness.
3) Back to school means sharing not only summer stories but also germs and possible illness. Beat the germs by boosting your child’s immunity. Check out these simple ways to do so:
- Encourage hand washing– Teach your child the importance of proper hand hygiene by having them wash their hands after bathroom use, before meals and snack time, and after playing with communal toys or sharing school supplies.
- Take your vitamins– Multivitamins are useful ways to ensure optimal intake of necessary vitamins and minerals which help to support general health and wellness. Vitamins A, C, E, Zinc and Selenium are essential for supporting a healthy immune system. Not all multivitamins are created equal, at Arizona Natural Medicine we carry several medical grade, great-tasting chewable multivitamins free of fillers, additives and colorants.
- Get your Zzzz-Getting enough quality sleep is extremely important for healthy growth and development as well as focus and attention. Sleeping is a very restorative time for growing bodies and strengthens young immune systems. Depending on age, children need an average of 10-14 hours of sleep per night. Melatonin, the “Dracula” hormone, is secreted at night and is vital for maintaining circadian rhythm, regulating other hormones, and strengthens the immune system via its antioxidant effects. For proper secretion of melatonin, it is best for children to sleep with out use of a nightlight. If fear of the dark hinders reduced nightlight use, try a nightlight with a dimmer setting or, better yet, with a timer that can be set to shut off after the child falls asleep. Studies have shown that red light has the least ability to suppress melatonin production if getting around using a nightlight is not possible. Also, homeopathy can be helpful in quelling fear of the dark in little ones.
- Back to school physicals– The goal of annual physical exams is to maintain the health of your child and to create a safe space to answer questions and concerns. Although physical exams change according to age, each exam includes a check up of eyes, ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs and abdomen. Annual physicals allow for continuity of care, which provides invaluable insight to your child’s growth and development and allows for detection emerging conditions or concerns.