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Healthy habits can help kids in school

POSTED: August 23, 2007 5:03 a.m.

Since learning is the primary job of children, your school system’s goal is to help children learn to their best potential.

In order to do that we must also help children learn to be healthy. As you prepare for “Back to School” shopping for uniforms and school supplies, remember to protect the health of your child so that they can come to school, ready to learn and you can remain on the job.

Here are a few reminders of back to school tasks that will help keep your child healthy and able to learn:

Entry to kindergarten or newly-enrolled students must bring an EED Certificate (Form 3300) to school. This provides for a screening for vision, hearing, and dental health. Did you know dental health problems are the No. 1 cause for school absences? Vision and hearing problems interfere with your child’s ability to learn. This certificate can be obtained from your health care provider or health department.

Immunizations need to be complete and a Form 3231 must be on file at school. Immunizations protect your child against many contagious diseases that could cause school absences and serious illnesses. Required immunizations have changed, be sure to check with your health care provider or health department to be sure your child is up to date.

Well child checkups with your health care provider help ensure your child is growing properly and able to play and learn at his/her best.

Developing healthy habits for your child and yourself will insure readiness to learn and a healthy lifestyle for a long, and healthy life.

Eating a healthy breakfast is crucial to your child’s learning and performance at school. Breakfast provides energy and nutrients to the brain so that your child can be attentive and learn. A healthy breakfast does not have to be just traditional breakfast food. If your child does not like breakfast foods, any foods with good sources of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates will provide the “brain food” your child needs. This includes foods such as eggs, cheese, meat, peanut butter, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, and reduced amounts of sugar.

Develop interest in play activities and regular active movement, such as walking, biking, swimming, sports, dance, skating, etc. Try various activities the whole family can enjoy together.

Limit TV/computer/electronic game times to no more than two hours a day. An active lifestyle promotes health and prevents chronic disease such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some cancers.

Adequate rest and sleep allows your child the energy to learn and be active as well as strengthen his or her body for growth and fighting off illnesses. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, lack of sleep damages the nervous system and makes children nervous and fidgety. Average sleep needs for children range from 12 hours for preschoolers, 11-12 hours for elementary ages, to 10 hours for teens.

Parents must also consider the individual needs of their child. Regular bedtime routines are important in preparing the body for sleep and should include 15-30 minutes of calm, soothing activity.

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