Studies have shown that healthy students are better learners. Healthy habits can help students remain stronger, healthier and successful in school. In my experience if a student’s chronic health condition is also managed at school, then they will perform better academically.
Staying physically active with daily exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and eating healthy can help a child boost their immunity and be healthier. School aged children need nine to eleven hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can affect behavior, ability to learn, and decrease immunity to illness. Children should eat a healthy diet throughout the day; including foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. It is especially important to eat a healthy breakfast each day. A healthy breakfast can help children be more alert and concentrate better in class. Not eating breakfast may cause a child to have a stomachache or headache, and have emotional or behavioral difficulties. If you don’t have time for breakfast at home, most schools serve breakfast each day. Children need a least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Benefits of physical activity include weight control, decreased blood pressure, improved self-confidence, and higher self- esteem. Physical activity may include fun activities such as playing outside with friends, shooting hoops, kicking a ball, or jump rope.
Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. It is important to talk to your child and make sure that he/she is not be affected by stress. Children may become easily stressed out by friend issues and the demands of school. Schools have adjustment councilors that can help children with stressful issues at school.
Hand washing is one of the most important ways to stay healthy and avoid catching illnesses such as the flu. Hands should be washed with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Hands should be washed after playing outside, after blowing the nose, using the bathroom, or eating. Tissues should be used only once and then thrown away. Teach children not to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, since germs are spread this way.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. It is especially important that children who have long term health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and weakened immune systems receive the flu shot since they can severe complications from the flu.
If your child has asthma, obtain an Asthma Action Plan from your doctor to help manage asthma during times of illness. Children with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, migraine headaches, and seizures should have individual health plans in the school nurses’ office. Communicate regularly with your child’s school nurse so that your child’s chronic health conditions can be managed better and your child will have a better school year.