Back-to-School Health And Safety Tips
Back-to-school season is in full swing. Amid the rush to buy school supplies, pick out new school clothes, and get the kids back on a decent schedule, it’s important to keep in mind your child’s health and safety. Whether your child is going off to school for the first time, or a high schooler, here are some essential back to school health and safety tips to share with your child.
You spend all summer choosing the perfect design or character for your child’s backpack, but make sure you keep safety in mind too. Get a backpack with wide, padded straps and a padded back. This will help prevent strain on the shoulders. Weight matters. A book bag should not weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s weight. Help your child sort through paperwork and throw out what is no longer needed.
No matter how your child gets to school, there are several safety rules to keep in mind. Be sure to review these back to school tips for students with your child.
Walking: If your child travels to school on foot, it’s a good idea to walk the route together to ensure she’s acquainted with it. A child is generally ready around 9-11 years old depending on their maturity level. Remind them to look both ways before crossing the street, and to wait for the walk signal is there is one.
Bicycle: Review helmet safety and street safety rules with your child. Look both ways before crossing the street, watch (and listen) for cars. Ride in the same direction as traffic. Teach your child directional hand signals as well.
School bus: Make sure your child understands that she/he should wait on the sidewalk, away from the curb, until the bus has come to a complete stop and the bus driver has opened the doors. This is especially important for older kids who may wait at the bus stop alone. Make sure your child understands to check the road carefully for cars before crossing the street, even when the bus has its stop sign out. There are cars that don’t follow the rules and distracted drivers on the road who miss the stop sign.
Car: Finally, even when you are the one driving your child to school and back every day, make sure she/he understands some car safety rules. As with the bus, have him/her wait until you come to a complete stop when pulling up to the pickup line in the afternoon. For younger children, ensure they are in the correct car seat or booster seat for their height and weight. A child should be in some type of harness until they reach 4’9”. For teens who are driving themselves to school, make it a strict rule that no texting, eating, or drinking is allowed while driving.
If your child has allergies, contact your child’s school and speak directly with her teacher to inform her of your child’s allergens. For lunch, pack healthy options. Include a fruit, vegetable, some whole grains, and some dairy such as a cheese stick or some yogurt (dairy doubles as a protein). Limit sugary drinks or snacks to a once-in-a-while treat. Many schools now have rules limiting sugary foods, so be sure to read these over. For days when your child eats the school lunch, instruct her/him on healthy choices to make. It’s also important to explain why healthy food is better, so your child is more likely to make good choices when away from you. The same goes for the vending machine; if you give your child some change to grab a snack during lunch, help her understand her best choices…a bag of pretzels, a granola bar, or some baked chips, for example.
Your child has spent about 6 hours in school learning, and may have to spend time at home doing homework. Many schools have short recesses. Because of this, be sure to give your child time to just…be a kid. Kids learn through play. Running around outside, riding a bike, playing with toys in his room, or even some video game time are all good options. Just like we adults feel the need to unwind and maybe watch an episode of our favorite show or relax with a treat to eat, kids also need to unwind!
One often overlooked back to school tip for parents is to ensure your child gets the right quantity and quality of sleep. Sleep is important to ensure a child does well in school. Your younger child should get 10-12 hours, while adolescents should get 8-10 hours. Establish a bedtime routine, including no screen time in the hour or two before bedtime.
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