OSU Medical Center Shares Back to School Basics to Keep Your Kids Healthy

It’s back to school time! Next week, it’s time to meet the teacher, pick up schedules, set up lockers and head back to class for thousands of children all across Oklahoma. With many schools beginning Aug. 12th, it will be tough to leave the free and easy lifestyles of summer and get back into a school routine. Here’s some help:
Dr. Stephen Barnes, a family physician with Medical Group, shares his Top Tips to keep your child healthy as they head back to school:

Wash Your Hands.

Good hand washing is by far number one to stay healthy. Tell your child, (and daily if you have to) when they get TO school, to go in to the bathroom and wash their hands. They have just touched the school bus, they’ve touched their friends, the doors going into school, and other sources that may be full of germs. Start the “in class time” with clean hands. If they have a cough or sneeze, tell them to ask to be excused to wash hands again or see if the teacher will let them or use the hand sanitizer on the teachers’ desk.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep & Establish Regular Bedtimes

Sleep is very important to stay sharp, to maintain good health and to be able to perform at optimal capacity. It may not be easy to establish the routine the week before school begins, but it can help. “Practicing” the bedtime routine the week before school can help with the transition. Your child won’t feel the shock that way.
”It’s like a train trying to pull a bunch of cars at once, if you don’t practice. If you have worked on the routine, it feels easier…like a train starting slowly, then moving a little bit at a time. Try this in 15 minute increments over a week, and your child most likely won’t feel as tired,” shares Dr. Barnes.

3. Eat Breakfast & Remind Your Child to Eat a Healthy Lunch

Please help your child start the day with a good, healthy and well-balanced breakfast – a breakfast on the go…like a do-nut or pop tart. It may be easier but it’s not as healthy as many other choices like eggs, fruit and whole grains. A well-rounded meal (even a small one) at breakfast time, will give your child energy to be able to perform in the mornings and stay sharp until lunch time. Either send a healthy lunch with your child or help them make healthy choices in the lunch room.

Following the recommended guidelines for eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains may not be what kids like but it’s what they need. Helping them make good choices about what is good for them and what has empty calories is a parent’s responsibility. We parents need to practice what we preach on this subject, too.

4. Exercise

Encourage your child to get plenty of exercise. If your school doesn’t have a time of day dedicated to exercise, help them do so when they get home, Exercising after school, for 30 min. to an hour, is recommended and is a perfect thing to do before they get started on their homework.

We hope these tips help! Dr. Barnes knows families well. He cares for families of all ages and has children and grandchildren of his own.

To visit with Dr. Barnes about Back to School Health, call Charlotte Guest at (918) 282-3209.

Updated 08-06-2010

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