It’s that time of year again: Summer is winding down and kids have started back at school. This means they’ll be working hard and playing harder and it’s often overwhelming to know how to help them take it all on. But there are a few important things parents can do to help kids function at their best.
CONSISTENT BEDTIME: It is very important for kids to be well rested. Maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends, is ideal. Most school-age kids between the ages of 9 to 13 need between 9 hours and 11 hours of sleep each night. Every child is different, so you can start to establish a routine by putting your kids to bed and allowing them to sleep until they wake up on their own, feeling well rested. Once you know how long they sleep, work backwards from this time to figure out an ideal bedtime.
HEALTHY MEALS: Healthy meals are another important component to helping kids do their best each day. This means starting the day with a well-balanced breakfast, and having a good lunch planned for them as well. Children will function better if they have proteins and healthy fats mixed into their diet, along with several servings of fruits and vegetables every day. This will give them the energy they need to grow and thrive. Ideally, you should avoid high sugar foods/drinks in general, but especially before or during the school day.
Excess sugar, whether it’s in the form of drinks containing calories, carbohydrates, or candy and treats should be avoided except on special occasions. Finally, the best beverage for anyone is water, and we have to encourage kids to stay hydrated. Recommended daily amounts of water for kids vary depending on age. Girls and boys between the ages of 4 to 8 should drink five cups per day. This amount increases to 7–8 cups, by ages 9-13. For ages 14 -18, the recommended water intake is 8–11 cups.
MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-INS: In addition to working to maintain physical health, there are also some important steps parents can take to help maintain their kids’ mental health. Make sure to talk to your kids every day about how school is going, how they are feeling and how they’re doing with their friends. Managing it all can be difficult for children, especially with all the emotions involved with going back to school.
Knowing they have your support can make a big difference. Any questions that come up can always be discussed with your child’s primary care provider. Most insurance companies will cover yearly well-child visits. Regular check-ins like these help make sure your child’s physical and mental health are on track, and are crucial to helping set them up for a healthy future.
Wish you the best as you key in with these healthy tips