Five Healthy Habits to Help Kids Start School Strong

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –Summer break is about to come to an end for students around the state, and that means getting back into a routine.

Catherine Sandberg knows what this time of year means, as a mother of two and doctor at Walnut Creek Pediatrics. "Getting back to school can be challenging for kids, especially after they've been not on their usual schedule during the summer time," she said.

That's why the first healthy habit you need to get back on track is sleep, "Start at this time to get kids to bed a little earlier," she said. “A lot of the younger kids need at least 10 hours, some up to 11 or 12. And, older kids are in between the 8 or 10 hour range too."

Kids also need to start getting back to a morning routine, which includes a balanced breakfast.  "Cereal is good, but it just has more carbohydrates and doesn't last as long, so trying to have a protein with it, like peanut butter toast or some eggs would be a good start to that," said Dr. Sandberg.

Dr. Sandberg said it’s also a good time to review personal hygiene habits. "Going back to school doesn't have to mean getting sick, so trying to learn to wash their hands and cover their cough and use Kleenexes."

She also encouraged parents to talk about topics that could affect their student’s mental health. “Making sure they know what to do if they are being bullied by someone, making sure they talk about it, and talking to your child about the importance of not being a bully and what to do in those situations," she said.

And, don't forget to review screen time. Guidelines suggest no more than two hours a day, which includes television, smart phones, tablets and computers.  “Being active, you want to make sure you're active at least an hour a day, ideally even more. And, if you're doing outside activities, make sure your child has plenty of sunscreen and that you're reapplying."

Dr. Sandberg said you'll also want to make sure your child's vaccinations are up to date, and if you need the paperwork for school, call your doctor now.