Back to School
Back to School Health Tips for Kids & Parents
After a long summer, most parents and (some) kids alike are ready to go back to school. But going back to school also means sending your kids into a sea of germs, and increasing their likelihood of getting sick. In fact, most school-aged children will get 6–10 colds every single year. But there are several things you can do to help your child and the rest of your family stay healthy, and decrease their chances of catching an illness at school.
Although there’s not much you can do to directly strengthen a child’s immune system, your child will be less likely to get sick if she practices healthy habits. Make sure your child is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Before school starts, be sure your family is up-to-date on immunizations, and consider getting flu shots, too. Click here for a school supply list.
It’s old news, but thorough, regular handwashing can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding germs and staying healthy. But most of us, adults included, still don’t do it as well or often as we should. Teach your child to wash their hands every time they use the bathroom, before they eat, and if they have come in contact with a lot of shared surfaces or objects (for example, sharing tools or materials at school). To wash your hands properly: get them wet (warm or cold water is fine) and soapy, and lather up for at least 20 seconds, making sure to get all areas of the hand and wrists. Rinse and dry thoroughly, and try not to touch bathroom surfaces like faucets or door handles (use clothing or a towel) after you have washed your hands. Model, teach and practice correct handwashing in the home at appropriate times to get your child off to a good start.
Avoiding the spread of germs:
Even if your child practices good handwashing hygiene, he or she will inevitably come into contact with students who are sick. Teach them to politely keep their distance from those who are coughing or sneezing, and to avoid touching the same surfaces or using the same materials. Finally, show your child how to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow, instead of their hands.
Don’t share everything:
Yes, kids go to school to learn about sharing, but there are some things they really shouldn’t share: pencils, lip gloss, food, and water bottles, to name a few. Make sure your child has his/her own supplies, and teach them how to politely decline if somebody wants to use their writing utensil or take a bite of their sandwich, especially if that person is sick. Click here for school bus safety.
If your child gets sick:
Keep your child at home, if possible. If your student is a teenager, have them contact their teachers or check online for anything they can do at home, (if they’re well enough, that is). Even if the sickness results in a doctor’s visit and medication, try not to rush the healing process. Sending your child to school before they are truly well won’t benefit them or anyone else.