Dear HCCUA Members:
We hope you are all enjoying your summer! It is almost time for back to school. For many parents this means your To-Do list gets longer. There are a few key factors you should start implementing into your schedules before the first day of school to prepare your child for the new school year.
First, during vacation time children have much more free time to do as they please. This means staying up later than usual and/or waking up later than usual as well. It is suggested that children should get an average of eight to twelve hours of sleep each night to be fully rested and refreshed for the following day. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function following a good night of sleep.
It is clear that a good night’s rest has a strong impact on learning and memory. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly and we lose the ability to access previously learned information. Hence, why is it essential for parents to reinforce their children to go to bed early to get the proper amount of sleep necessary for them to function properly the following day!
Second, children’s overall screen time has more than doubled since 2000 to more than seven hours a day. It is recommended that school- aged children should have no more than two to four hours of entertainment media time each day. Excessive media time can lead to struggles with school, attention problems, sleep and eating disorders and obesity.
It’s all about gradual changes. Having a TV in your child’s room can interfere with sleep, making them feel wired at night and tired during the day. If TVs and computers are in a central location, you can better monitor the time spent in front of them. You can also create a screen time schedule. Once you have established a TV time limit, sit with your child every week and let them watch TV freely, without any interruptions. Remember to keep track of your own screen time to set a good example as well.
Additionally, encourage other activities like reading, doing puzzles or board games, playing outside, and spending time with friends or family to support healthy activities for your children to engage in instead of watching TV, playing video games or being on the computer. Children whose parents set limits on their kids’ TV and other screen time are more likely to be active compared to children whose parents give their children free rein.
Third, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. About eight to twelve percent of school-age children skip breakfast entirely and among adolescents it reaches up to thirty percent. Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. Choosing healthy breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar may boost kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory; which they need to learn in school. Breakfast also can help keep children’s weight in check. Breakfast kick-starts the body’s metabolism, the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy.
Fourth, children’s home life influences the type of foods brought for their lunches and snacks. Instead of policing and taking away food, encourage healthier school lunches which can lead to healthier nutritional choices throughout children’s entire lifetime. A healthy well-balanced lunch can give children the energy they need to stay focused, pay attention in class, and learn the information presented to them in their classes after lunchtime.
Lastly, make sure your children are up-to-date on vaccines before sending them back to school. It is true that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, outbreaks still happen. Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and death.
In addition to the e-Newsletter we have included an article “Road Trip” for those of you that may be taking a last minute trip before the summer ends. This article better explains one of your many HCCUA benefits Roadside Assistance. Along with a yummy recipe from The Food Network, Berry Dessert Lasagna. An easy recipe that can be altered to create many different treats of your liking plus a fun thing to make with your kids!
Kristine Eckardt, Director of Member Communications