Break out the lunch boxes and the three-ring binders, back-to-school season is upon us again! Amid the mad dash for backpacks, pencil cases and the rapidly approaching school bus, it’s easy to forget about the health concerns of going back to school.
Back-to-school time is also prime time for germs and bugs; an enormous number of children spend most of the day in close contact and touch a lot of shared surfaces (e.g. desks, chairs, doorknobs). The schedule changes brought on by going to school every day can heavily affect sleeping, eating, leisure and recreation time. We at AFC/ AFC Doctors Express want to keep back-to-school season fun and healthy for everyone. Here are a few ways to keep your family healthy and happy year-round.
For younger kids
- They need to wash their hands thoroughly and often. This seems like a no-brainer, but kids don’t always understand the importance of hand-washing. They know they’re supposed to do it because Mom and Dad said so, but they don’t realize the difference that it makes. Five seconds of soap and water isn’t much help; try teaching your kids to sing the ABCs or a similar short song while they wash their hands. That way, you know that they’ve washed their hands for a significant period of time.
- Have your children bring water bottles to school. According to experts at the University of Colorado, the water fountain is often the germiest place at school (and that includes the toilet seats!). After all, the bathrooms get cleaned frequently, but the water fountain doesn’t get much attention. By sending your kids to school with water bottles, you’re effectively saving them from the biggest germ risk possible.
- On the topic of sending kids to school prepared, why not give them bottles of hand sanitizer? Your kid might not have the patience or the time to go wash his hands after he touches something icky on the bus, but he could squirt some hand sanitizer. Plus, you can even clip them to your kids’ backpacks!
For big kids and teenagers
- Make sure they get enough sleep! Bedtime schedules are often more relaxed over the break, and of course it’s very “cool’ to be a teenage night owl. We don’t want to ruin their street cred, but kids in school need about 10 routine hours of sleep a night. Otherwise, their immune systems get weak, and the germs at school get an open invitation inside.
- Don’t forget physicals! Most schools require kids to get a physical examination done before they participate in school athletics. It’s an easy thing to forget about in the harried days of the back-to-school season, and then suddenly it’s “Mom! We need it by Friday!” AFC/ AFC Doctors Express offers quick, hassle-free physicals and accepts walk-ins.
- Stay active. Speaking of sports, let’s talk about your children and exercise. The end of summer means long school days, homework, and less and less time for recreation. Fewer schools have recess, and more and more kids play video games. Moderate, regular exercise is essential to immune health, a good sleep cycle and proper development.
Trying to stay sane while you wade through the back-to-school season can seem impossible, but AFC/ AFC Doctors Express can help. Need immunizations for school? We’ve got it. Need physicals? Come on in. If the stress of the season wins out over your child’s immune system, drop by and see us. We’ll get you squared away and “back to back-to-school” in no time.