It’s that time again! The final days of summer before school means that it is time to start planning for the upcoming school year. Whether you have a pre-schooler, or a house full of high schoolers, being prepared will make the transition back to school much easier. Refuel. Just as a car needs a full tank of quality gasoline to run well, we all need healthy food to keep us on track throughout the school and workday. Breakfast should have carbohydrates for fuel, as well as protein to prevent blood sugar fluctuations and hunger before lunch. If you pack your child’s lunch, remember to always include a fruit and vegetable, as well as a protein source to help your child stay focused throughout the day. Lastly, dinner should be healthy as well; avoid those quick trips to fast food restaurants by planning your menu ahead of time to ensure that all ingredients are available at home. Re-balance. These days, every child knows how to navigate a phone, tablet, video games, or laptop. While technology has its benefits, you should encourage your children to prioritize school before technology and social media; limit screen time until school assignments have been completed. There are many educational games (phonics, math, history, geography) on phones and tablets that can occupy your child when it is time to use those devices, and interactive video games such as the Wii, which can provide an exercise workout. Indoor/technology time should be balanced with physical activities; encourage regular exercise (such as shooting basketball, bike riding, or jumping jacks.) Rest. Many students, especially at the junior and high school level, are not getting sufficient sleep. The average teenager requires 8-9 hours of sleep, while younger children require 10-11 hours of sleep a night. Consistent bed times, wake times and regular exercise help to maintain a good sleep schedule. Having screens (cell phones, tablets, computers, and televisions) prevents sleepiness as the light from the screens mimics the sun and alters the normal sleep cycle. All screens should be off at least 1 hour before bedtime, and should never be used in bed to prevent insomnia. Students should carefully choose their schedules and extra-curricular activities in order to prevent overloading their schedule and consistent late night studying. Recheck. Last, it is a good idea to check in with your pediatrician or family physician in preparation for the school year. Your physician will be able to ensure that all necessary vaccines are up to date; can complete a comprehensive sports physical; and can also do a vision and hearing screen prior to starting the school year. Medication forms can be updated for school, and refills can be updated for asthma, allergies, and other necessary medications.
Margaret Umah, MD
OakBend Medical Group Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.