6 Ways to Keep Kids Safe and Healthy This School Year
We want our children to learn all they can in school — and have fun! — but we also want them to be as safe and healthy as possible. Fortunately, you can set your kids up for success and help them stay healthy, even at school. Here are our tips.
1. Start with lessons at home
Before they go to school, your children need to learn healthy habits. Go beyond simply saying, “wash your hands!” and instead demonstrate how to properly and thoroughly clean the hands – with soap and warm water for 20seconds or more. Have them sing happy birthday twice for the proper amount of time. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content can also help in a pinch. Show kids how to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbows, not the palms of their hands. Teach them to avoid touching their eyes, mouths and noses and sharing food utensils or drinks with classmates. All of these practices can help minimize their exposure to germs and slow the spread of common children illnesses at school… and at home. Also, encourage them to help monitor your health as a family by letting you know as soon as they feel any symptoms of illness.
2. Boost brain power with basics
Some of the most basic habits can make the biggest difference. Sleep is incredibly important for growing children and for school performance, so make sure your kids are getting the recommended amount of sleep, which can be as much as 13 hours for preschoolers and eight to 10hours for teens. Be sure to consider sleep hygiene, the collection of habits that affect sleep quality. Create a calm, quiet, dark sleep environment to promote restful sleep, which can boost the immune system and concentration.
Food is fuel for their bodies and brains, so have your students start their day with a balanced breakfast that includes plenty of protein, which can aid in focus, and complex carbohydrates, which can keep them feeling full until lunchtime. Pack healthy snacks, like fruit or nuts, rather than chips and other junk food, to give them a boost throughout their day.
3. Get current on preventive care
Start the school year off with a well check to ensure your child is current on all vaccines and is given a thorough exam by a physician who can identify any health concerns. If 12 or older, your student can also get vaccinated against COVID-19. Getting the flu vaccine before flu season begins will protect them even more.
4. Reinforce following CDC guidelines
Even if your children’s school is following a relaxed version of the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), make sure your children understand how the CDC schools guidelines can help keep them safe, especially if coronavirus cases increase through the school year. Social distancing, or keeping 6 feet away from others, and remembering to wear a mask and avoid crowds are some basic ways we can protect ourselves in the pandemic.
5. Stay safe on the move
To help them avoid injury, whether on the road, the playground, or the ball field, give your children some basic safety rules. Tell them to follow all instructions given to them by teachers, bus drivers and crossing guards. For walkers or bikers, travel the route with your child and go over any procedures they’ll need to follow, showing them how to look both ways before crossing the street and how to walk or ride safely. From your own car, help your child learn how to unbuckle (if old enough), gather up all their things and hop out safely for the drop-off lane. Practice makes perfect.
6. Get care when you need it.
Finally, expect the occasional illness and injury. Remember to keep kids home whenever they feel sick, and contact their doctor for advice, especially for respiratory illnesses. For emergencies, such as painful sports injuries or a high fever of 103° F or greater, bring your child to Laredo Emergency Room. Our highly skilled emergency medicine physicians can treat your student and have them back at school in no time.
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