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6 Ways to Have the Healthiest School Year Ever

6 Tips for a Healthier School Year

It's not always easy to switch gears from a relaxing summer to a demanding school year. Since emotional distress and physical illness can compound things, it's important to prioritize your children's health and well-being, so they can be at their best. Here's how you can have the healthiest school year ever, both physically and emotionally.

  1. Manage your child's homework . According to a recent study , excessive homework is associated with physical health problems, high stress levels and lack of balance in children's lives. In fact, researchers found clear connections between homework-induced stress and physical issues, such as migraines, weight loss, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, ulcers and stomach problems. While you may not be able to control how much homework your child gets, you can make sure he or she addresses it in a healthy way. This means making sure your child is well-fed and rested before tackling homework assignments. It also means not allowing the child to procrastinate on homework until the last minute, when impending deadlines can cause a surge in stress hormones.
  2. Stay engaged . School can be a stressful environment for kids, who face overwhelming academic and social pressures. From unrequited crushes and bullying to physical insecurities and unhealthy comparisons, kids are bombarded with emotional challenges that can diminish their self-esteem. Be sure to be available and compassionate, offering guidance when possible. You may also want to consider seeking counseling for your child to help him or her cope with issues that might negatively impact mental well-being.
  3. Pack hand-sanitizer in their lunchbox . Schools are notorious for spreading germs. Even if you've taught your children to wash their hands frequently; it's quite likely that an oversight will occur from time to time. Many times, kids get sick when they spread germs from their hands to their mouths while eating. You can reduce the risk of this by packing along a small bottle of hand sanitizer for kids who are old enough to use it responsibly.
  4. Prioritize your child's sleep . According to the Mayo Clini c, research has shown that people are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, when they don't get enough quality sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics has released updated sleep requirements for children , which call for 9 to 12 hours of nightly sleep for children between the ages of 6 and 12; and 8 to 10 hours of sleep for teenagers. Make sure your child gets in bed early enough each night to meet his or her sleep requirements.
  5. Keep their energy up . It's important for kids to have optimal nutrition to keep them healthy and energized during the school year. Research has shown that our immune systems function better when we eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables. At the same time, studies have shown that children tend to see a boost in academic performance when they eat breakfast every day. To keep your child's mind and body running in high gear, make sure to provide plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while avoiding foods rich in sugar and simple carbohydrates, which cause surges in insulin production, followed by an inevitable crash.
  6. Cultivate connections . In addition to your child's physical health, it's important to recognize the importance of mental and emotional well-being. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be common in school environments, where kids tend to separate into social cliques. You can help your children become more social by involving them in extracurricular activities, centering on sports, art, drama, music, school government or academics. You should also consider counseling if your child seems especially isolated or depressed due to social issues at school.

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