Going back to school is exciting; the changing schedule, seeing friends and getting into after-school activities, again, and–in some places–the changing weather all help make it fun. Shopping for new school supplies bright with colors and new designs, too, always lends to the atmosphere of change. Preparing your elementary aged child to go back to school takes far more than new school supplies, however.
A lot of schools have been introducing water bottle filling stations in place of drinking fountains, over the last couple years. This is meant to keep the transfer of germs to a minimum, if not non-existent. There are a few factors that are important to keep in mind with this transition. In this case, it is important to make sure you and your child are choosing their water bottles wisely.
We are supposed to have half our body weight in ounces of water a day. So, if your child is eighty pounds, they’ll need forty ounces of water a day. If they’re a hundred pounds, they should be having fifty ounces of water a day. This is the bare minimum we’re supposed to drink. If your child has extracurriculars that demand a lot of energy–sports, for example–or they’re outside in the sun for a large amount of the day, they’ll need more.
Your child doesn’t need to drink all this water while they’re at school, but it’s important to help them choose a water bottle that is big enough to help them drink the amount they need while at school.
Encourage your child to drink water before going to school to start their day off right. Have water at home for them. If you’re picking your child up from school, have some more water in the car for the ride home.
A lot of water bottles are made from brightly colored plastic with pictures of some of your children’s favorite characters on them. Plastic is not a good material to eat or drink from, due to the chemicals within it.
Glass or stainless steel are better materials to have a water bottle made from. Glass can get tricky with little ones due to its fragility. Most teachers–and parents–don’t want to run the risk of a water bottle falling and breaking. Look at stainless steel water bottles for your child, with minimal plastic. If they really want a picture of this or that character or design on them, look into getting stickers or removable decals that can go on the outside of their water bottles. As an added bonus, these are easy to take off and refresh for a new look, rather than being stuck with the same graphic all year.
Be sure to keep your child’s water bottles clean and mold-free by washing them regularly. Either make it a point to wash each water bottle after school or encourage them to take responsibility for their own water bottles. Wash the bottle, the cap, a straw if there is one, and the seal. Every so often, scrutinize each for signs of mold. Having a water bottle is a great way to keep track of the amount of water your little one is drinking–just make sure it’s helping them be healthy in every way.
Eating Well When It’s Hard
Food is a very emotional thing. As adults, it can be hard to choose to eat what is healthy over what tastes good. For little kiddos, it can be even more of a challenge. That’s why it’s important to help prepare our elementary-aged children for success when it comes to food and what to eat by making the right choices fun and just as yummy. Be sure to watch out for allergens, common inflammatory foods, and other toxins like GMOs and the dirty dozen that can put stress on their systems.
How to Eat Well at Lunch
Packing food from home is a great way to keep your child’s lunch healthy and nutritious, as well as make sure they’re getting the right amount of food for their growing bodies. For some ideas on how to do this, check out our last Student Series article.
Keep lunches fun with some of our healthy and yummy recipes. Eating well doesn’t have to be painful–it’s all just a matter of a different perspective.
Eating Well With Treats
Everyone knows the excitement of cake, ice cream, cookies, or any other desert. Especially the brightly colored ones with a lot of frosting. Dyes, sugar, and dairy can all cause challenges, especially in little ones.
Talk with the other adults at a party your child might be going to. Get help in making it not a big deal that your child doesn’t eat any desserts that may be provided. Discuss with your child which they’d prefer to handle–not having a dessert with the rest of the kids or bringing their own that’s different from the one provided. Be sure to discuss this choice with the other adults, as well. Which situation do they think would be able to handle?
For delicious desserts, check out our recipes!
Eating Well with Snacks
Most children love snacks. It doesn’t hurt that snacks are generally a bit tastier than the full-on meals may be, either. It’s important to remember, though, that snacks do not necessarily mean sugar. For some sugar-free snacks, check out our recipes!
If your little one asks for a snack a lot, check their water intake. It may not be as fun as a snack, but the problem could be that they’re thirsty–not hungry. The two can feel very similar. If this is an issue your child runs into a lot, find a way to mark how much water they need to drink before they can get a snack on their water bottle. Maybe use one of the stickers mentioned above–when the water line is below the sticker, then they can have a snack. To make the water more exciting, try one of our infusion recipes!
Pack Your Elementary-Age Child’s Backpack for Success
What kid doesn’t love picking out a new backpack as they’re getting ready to go back to school? Similar to the water bottles mentioned above, they’re all so brightly colored, and so many of them have pictures of some of your child’s favorite characters. It’s easy to get so caught up in getting the perfect backpack. Just be sure you’re setting your little scholar up for success with their backpack.
Backpacks and bookbags are only supposed to be ten percent of the weight of the child. This means, if your child is eighty pounds, their backpack should only be eight pounds. If your child is a hundred pounds, the backpack should only be ten. Putting too much pressure on your child’s back or shoulders can cause inflammation, just like spills and tumbles can.
Try a rolling backpack for your child, instead. One that can be heavier, because they aren’t carrying it on their back and shoulders. Discuss with your child what needs to be brought home, each night. What homework do they need to bring home? Which books do they need to do that homework? What books do they not need?
How much time does your child have available to them to just sit, or just play in the yard, or play with friends? School takes up a large part of the day, and most days your kiddo will have homework afterwards. Many kids and parents are both excited for extracurricular activities after the school day is over. This is a lot of doing and mental work for kids–how much down time does your child have? How much time do they have to just read a book they enjoy after school? Are they able to go to the park before bed? How late does your child stay up doing homework because of the myriad of after-school activities?
Sit down with your child and discuss what activities are important to them. Help them look at their schedule if they want to do everything they want to do. The body responds to mental stress like it does to physical stress–the body doesn’t know the difference. A full day of learning as well as the physical or mental exertion of their chosen after-school activities is a lot of stress for a child’s body. Help them keep part of their schedule clear to just be a kid–to run around the yard, climb on the playground, read a book or play a board game.
Screens are an easy thing for a child to reach for to give their mind a break. Whether it’s watching a show they enjoy or playing a game, it is easily the first thing children consider when the time comes for a brain break. While screens themselves aren’t bad for your kiddos, too much screen time isn’t good. If your children use screens at school, any they use at home will be adding onto that amount.
It is important to help your children relax without screens. Encourage them to come up with their own story or game using blocks or other toys or play a board game. If they don’t have the mental energy to come up with a story of their own or focus on a board game, encourage them to read a book. Or, take some down time for yourself and read a book with them.
WebMD says that kids ages 7-12 years need 10-11 hours of sleep.
Most of our kids don’t get this much. Ten to eleven hours of sleep can be difficult when kiddos need to wake up for school, with the amount of homework they have, and any extra activities they have going on.
To help your child get better sleep in the time they have, take the electronics out of their room. The EMF waves from things like computers, phones, or even alarm clocks can affect your child’s sleep. Instead, take the opportunity to be the one that wakes your child up in the mornings. Waking up to a parent’s good morning does your child’s adrenals much better than the blaring of an alarm, anyway.
Close your child’s curtains and, if you can get away with it, turn off all lights so their room is completely dark–yes, even night lights. Start winding down an hour or two before bed and turn off all screens at least half an hour before bed. All of this helps with melatonin production, and helps your child fall and stay asleep. You can find more of our tips to get a good night’s sleep here.
Setting Your Child up for Success Physically
It’s not hard to imagine tumbles, scrapes, and falls could cause your body to fall out of alignment and result in inflammation. Sitting in one place for long periods, though? That, too, can cause misalignment and result in inflammation. Get your child adjusted to address the physical stress on their body and help lower the amount of general stress in their system.
To get your child adjusted, their allergies tested, and learn more about going back to school in a way that helps your kiddo, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!