You’ve bought all the required school supplies. The lunchbox is loaded with healthy choices. And the kids are sporting new haircuts and shoes.
Still, before you take your children to the bus stop, it’s important to check one more box.
“One of the most important things you can do as a parent is protect your kids’ health, especially when they go back to school,” said Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Stephen Prescott, M.D.
Here are three simple tips for keeping your children healthy this school year.
All hands on deck
Kids touch a lot of surfaces that are also home to bacteria and viruses. While they can’t avoid every germ, it’s important your kids know to wash their hands whenever possible, especially before eating.
“It’s normal to see outbreaks of common illnesses around back-to-school time, and the lack of basic hygiene is a big reason why,” said Prescott.
Soap and water provide the best kind of clean, but hand sanitizers can serve as a good substitute between washings. “There’s no reason to be a germophobe, but little precautions can go a long way,” said Prescott.
Snooze at home, not in the classroom
Kids have been dozing off in class for as long as there have been schools. So it comes as little surprise that kids need a lot of sleep—around 8 to 9 hours.
Sleep is an underappreciated component of good health and success in school, Prescott said. “Lack of sleep can cause concentration issues, bad moods and decreased immunity, among other health problems.”
Not only will those hours of shut-eye add up to better grades, the immunity boost will result in more healthy days in the classroom.
Time to immunize
“Vaccines are, without a doubt, one of the two or three greatest advances in medicine ever,” Prescott said. And, he said, careful studies have debunked myths that they cause autism or other dangers. “The concerns about their safety are unfounded.”
While children need basic immunizations just to enter school, Prescott strongly encourages parents to have their children immunized against influenza each year.
“Put simply, the annual flu shot is the number one thing you can do for your kids to help them have a healthy school year,” he said.