Here’s how to start the school year on a healthy footing

Here’s how to start the school year on a healthy footing

The dog days of summer are winding down, and a new school year approaches. As you prepare to send your kids back to class, consider these five tips for a healthy year.

First, set a sleep schedule. Gone are the days of sleeping in, but it’s important for kids and parents to get sufficient rest. Most kids, especially teens, need eight to 10 hours of sleep every night. Turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bed, and try to set a regular sleeping schedule one to two weeks before classes begin.

Second, eat healthy. What we eat affects our ability to concentrate, our mood and our overall health. Begin each school day with a hearty breakfast and, if your child brings her own lunch, pack lots of whole grains, fruit, protein and vegetables.

Third, encourage regular exercise, which releases endorphins that can help lower anxiety and depression. This is important at the beginning of the school year for kids as they adjust to new classrooms, a bigger workload and friends who may have changed over the summer.

Fourth, communicate. As kids get older, they often talk less about what happens at school. Push back by taking time to talk about the school day and address any concerns your child may have, especially as they adjust to the new school year. Ask questions, don’t just settle for simple answers.

Lastly, practice good hygiene habits. Germs lurk in classrooms, so teach your kids how to protect themselves. Insist that they wash their hands after using the restroom and before eating lunch, sneeze into the elbow, and use hand sanitizer whenever possible.

Follow these tips, and your family will be on the road to a healthy and happy school year.

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