After a glorious 6 weeks of Summer Holidays – watching back-to-back films, sofa-snacking and day trips, children are in for a big adjustment when they go back to school. Breaking free from the usual routine and the hectic schedule term-time schedule can certainly be beneficial, both physically and emotionally. But, as your children approach the new term it is worth taking a couple of precautionary measures to set your family up for a safe and healthy start to a new school year.
Our Patient Liaison Manager at London Medical Concierge, Guljeet Kaur gives her top tips on preparing for a healthy start to the new school term:
- Start the day off right
Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school and have improved levels of concentration and more energy. However, for many busy families, breakfast is often rushed or even “on-the-go” as parents and their offspring try to get to school and work on time. But as tempting as it may be to grab a sugar-filled cereal bar or to skip breakfast entirely, it’s worth trying to plan a few extra minutes into your evening and morning routines to make time for a quick and healthy breakfast.
Ideally, breakfast should include a mix of foods from a few of the five food groups such as, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy protein. This could be wholemeal toast, cereal, eggs, fruit and yoghurt. Milk and other dairy products are especially good for growing bodies and healthy bones.
- Make sure your child has pre-term check ups
Regular check-ups are the best way to make sure your child’s health is as good as it should be, or that any problems are picked up and treated before they have an impact on their education. Check-ups to consider include:
- EYE TEST: Some common childhood eye conditions are treatable if diagnosed at an early age but often these can stay undetected making matters worse. Signs such as poor handwriting or low-attention span can indicate visual difficulties, so it’s important that parents take them to get their eyes tested regularly.
- GET VACCINATED: It is advised that you keep your children up to date with the necessary vaccinations from birth, including the MMR vaccination to protect against mumps and rubella. If you have any questions on back-to-school vaccines, ask your health visitor, doctor, school nurse or a practice nurse in the doctor’s surgery.
- DENTIST: Schedule your child’s dental check-up at least a month before school starts. If your child has cavities that need to be filled, they may need to be addressed over multiple appointments. Give yourself plenty of time during the summer break so your child doesn’t have to miss school.
- MEDICATION: Check that your child is up-to-date with any prescriptions such as asthma inhalers and adrenaline auto-injectors (e.g. EpiPen). School offices also often keep medications in the Medical Room so make sure you supply a set of medication if necessary and complete the school’s Medical Care Plan. If there are any changes to medication or you have any health and medical concerns, ensure that the school is informed.
- Manage stress
Stress can lead to a variety of health issues, including insomnia, digestive problems and low immune systems. Transitions in school years or moving to a new school can be difficult for some children to cope with and makes them feel vulnerable and more sensitive than usual. Daily school life throws children many challenges from overwhelming timetables, friendship issues and homework woes – and most children will naturally have worries at some point. Try to schedule time each day for your child to play a sport, go swimming, paint or watch a film.
- Set bedtimes
It’s essential for kids (and adults!) to get a healthy amount of sleep each night to stay focused and function throughout the next day. Most adults need about 8 hours a sleep each night although this may vary depending on the individual. Children and adolescents typically need more than eight hours, so consider making their bedtimes a little earlier each night for a week or two before school starts.
- Good hygiene habits
It is important to show children how to protect themselves from germs as good hygiene will go a long way to helping your child and the rest of your family to stay healthy.
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to avoid spreading or catching germs. So, make sure you teach your child to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before going to lunch or eating a snack. And, teach your children to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to stop germs from becoming airborne.