*Editor’s note: This information was published in the September 2023 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*
In searching for advice on how to help children experience a healthy school year, it seems almost every healthcare and governmental institution in the country has a web page on the topic. From them, here are some common recommendations to be aware of as your children go back to school.
Getting adequate sleep is near the top of the list. Anyone who is sleep-deprived for a sustained period puts themselves at risk, not only for physical disease, but mental and emotional problems. A great day starts with a good night’s sleep.
Active (but safe) lifestyle
Stay active, get plenty of exercise, and when possible, get outdoors. Be careful to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially in the warmer months and during vigorous physical activity. Where appropriate, wear proper safety equipment. An active lifestyle also means limiting screen time on electronic devices, which, in excess, hinders physical fitness and social and emotional development.
Maintain a sound diet balanced with fresh fruits and vegetables. One common recommendation is to limit one’s intake of sweets. Many people don’t realize the amount of sugar and calories their children ingest via sweetened beverages, which has been shown to be a major contributor to the U.S.’s obesity epidemic.
Infection control begins with hygiene
Rest, exercise, and diet are invaluable but are not a guarantee against infection. Annual training in hand-washing and other hygiene practices are required for all U.S. healthcare professionals so we don’t forget the importance of this life-saving habit. We now better understand the value of keeping a safe distance (at least six feet) from sick people and, when uncertain, masking up. When your child is sick, keep them at home until you know it’s safe for them to return to school. Finally, staying current with standard vaccinations is also prudent.
Watch your child’s spiritual and emotional health
For many kids, school represents a significant source of stress in their lives. Take the time to think ahead to anticipate difficult situations that your child might encounter, such as their first day of school.
Stay in touch with your children’s thoughts and feelings. Ask them questions like, “What did you learn in school today?” “Did anything interesting happen?” “Is there anything that you’d like to talk about?” Monitor their social media. Watch for signs of bullying. Keep lines of communication open.
Protect your child from accidents
Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) are a tragic cause of death among school-aged children. CHM staff review cases in which members (especially the young) failed to wear proper safety equipment while in or operating a vehicle, suffering severe trauma or death that might have been prevented.
Sadder still is the trend in firearms. Gunshot injuries have had such a sharp rise over the last ten years that in 2020, death due to firearms surpassed MVAs as the leading cause of accidental deaths for children 18 and younger. A bullet can’t be called back. Please practice gun safety.
Prepare for emergencies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that students carry a “backpack emergency card” with critical information that might be needed in an emergency. Contents include current medications, medical conditions, and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of parents and teacher(s).
A great privilege…and responsibility
Psalm 127:3 NLT says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” As a young parent, I often forgot that truth and missed the enjoyment of many moments along the way. Now as a grandparent, I more easily see the priceless gift that each child represents.
With that gift also comes great responsibility. Children are born completely dependent upon their parents and loved ones to care for them. Throughout their developmental years, we help them mature to ‘stand’ on their own, eventually taking our place in society.
May God bless you as you shepherd your children through their school years to maturity.
- Nebraska Medicine: 10 tips to keep kids healthy this school year
- CDC: Nine CDC Health Hacks for Back-to-School Success
- www.VeryWellFamily.COM: 7 Ways to Keep Kids Healthy During the School Year
- Mayo Clinic: The 3 best ways to keep kids healthy when heading back to school
- NEJM: Current Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States
- CDC: Beyond School Supplies: Back to School Reminders & Readiness