As July comes to an end, August ushers in the beginning of another school year. Many of us are preparing our children to go back to school.
School can put a lot of pressure on both parents and students. But it’s also the perfect time to start new healthy habits for the year. From starting your kids’ day with a healthy breakfast to developing consistent sleep routines, here are a few tips to help you create healthy habits for your family this school year.
1. Start the day right with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. Experts agree that breakfast is the most-important meal of the day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), about eight to 12 percent of school-aged kids skip breakfast. Studies have found that children who eat breakfast function better in school than those who don’t. These children tend to have more energy and can concentrate better. Some easy, go-to breakfast options for your child’s busy morning include yogurt, granola bars, fresh fruit, dry cereal and breakfast bars.
2. Pack healthy lunches and snacks. Most school websites post cafeteria menus. Check out your child’s school lunch options each week, so you can plan in advance whether to pack your child a lunch. All schools have to follow the nutrition standards set by the US Department of Agriculture. Be sure to pack healthier options that also follow these standards. Instead of sugar-filled soda and juices, send water and whole fruits.
3. Stay active as a family. The school year can be busy. After-school functions and homework leave less time for family activities. Find time during the week to be active as a family. Try these activities: walk the dog, ride bikes after dinner or walk your children to school. Or, turn off the TV, turn on some music and have a dance-off after dinner. Bet your kids don’t know how to do the robot or even what the robot is. This is the perfect time to show them your skills on the dance floor.
4. Create a consistent sleep routine. According to the AAP, children who do not get enough sleep have a difficult time concentrating in school and learning. Not enough sleep has been associated with low school performance in middle school, high school and college. Young children need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night, while children between the ages of 13 and 18 need at least eight to 10 hours a night. Encourage your children to turn off the electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. A good sleep routine can include a bath/shower, reading a book together, tucking your child in to bed and saying goodnight.
This school year, take the initiative to build healthy school habits to set your child up for success. Healthy habits begin at home.