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Back to Bed for Back to School

By Annette Liao, DO | Family Medicine PGY-1

Can you believe it? The end of summer is quickly approaching. With fall around the corner, many families are thinking about the school year and how to prepare their kids for the classroom. This could prove to be a bigger challenge this year, as schools reopen their doors for in-person classes after a very different year. Now, after a summer of staying up late and sleeping in, it is time to help kids get back on a normal classroom schedule, and that starts with a good night’s sleep.

Back-to-School Kids Sleep Tips

  • As their brains develop, school-aged children need more sleep than adults to do their best in school and to stay alert during the day. Here is how much sleep kids should have:
    • Preschoolers (ages 3-5) require 10-13 hours of sleep
    • School-age children (ages 6-13) require 9-11 hours of sleep
    • Teenagers (ages 14-17) require 8-10 hours of sleep
  • Start slow – most kids will not be able to suddenly switch from being night owls to morning birds. A slow transition over a few weeks is best. Move bedtime by 15 minutes each day until they are getting the amount of sleep they need.
  • Keep a clock in each child’s bedroom so that they know what time they should go to sleep and what time they should wake up.
  • Avoid using electronics at least 1 hour before bed, and no electronics in bed! The light from the screens on TVs, tablets, and phones tricks our brains into thinking it is daytime and keeps us from a good night’s sleep. It’s good for everyone to turn off screens starting two hours before bedtime.
  • Instead of electronics, establish a relaxing bedtime routine. This could involve reading, stretching, or meditation. Routines will train the body that it is bedtime and can decrease anxiety around bedtime in kids and adults. Make the environment as relaxing as possible.
  • Keep the schedule, even on weekends. Parents and caregivers should all be on the same page with the sleep schedule. Children over the age of 5 should be informed on what that plan is as well.

Having quality sleep is essential for success in school. Not getting enough sleep affects a student’s ability to function, learn, and grow. These tips will not only help to get your kids back on track for school, but also set them up for a lifelong healthy habit! Learn more about other back-to-school tips for a healthy and happy start to the new school year.

Time to get Back to School!

The 2021-2022 school year is just around the corner and the back-to-school feeling is nice to have back. As kids everywhere get ready for in-person learning this year, here are ways to make sure the start of the school year is a healthy and safe one.

  1. Get Well-Child appointments. During the pandemic, many people got behind (or forgot about) medical appointments like well-child and other annual preventative check-ups. Make sure your child has their well-child appointment before school starts!
  2. Schedule a sports physical. If your child is playing any sport this fall or spring, it’s a good time to get them a physical before the season gets into full swing.
  3. Make sure immunizations are up to date. Schools require immunizations and they keep your child and their classmates protected from unnecessary, dangerous, and sometimes fatal diseases. If students are 12 or older, they should also get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the CDC list of childhood vaccines.
  4. Start a good sleep routine. Kids need enough sleep to develop and do well in school and everything else. Most children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night, so start a routine now and keep it up!
  5. Be physically fit. Kids need at least one hour of exercise every day. Make sure they get enough activity whether it is walking, swimming, playing soccer or basketball, dancing, or something else.
  6. Get school supplies ready. Start the school year with a sturdy backpack. Make sure your student has whatever supplies, like notebooks, folders, pens, and pencils, etc. to start the year successfully.
  7. Talk about bullying. Make sure your child knows about the seriousness of bullying. It can hurt people emotionally and mentally and can harm their learning. If your child is being bullied or sees another student bullied, make sure they know to tell a bully to “Stop!” and to talk to a trusted adult (teacher, counselor, nurse) at school.

Ready to start this school year and get your student in for their back-to-school medical appointments? NOAH pediatricians, counselors, nutritionists, and community resource specialists can help your student and family head into the year with everything you need for success. Make an appointment today!

Back to School Health Tips – Snacking the Easy Way by Mina Goodman, RDN

Whether this year means heading back to school physically, via video from home, or both, getting back into the routine of classes can take some time to get adjusted to. Here are some tips for making healthy eating quick and easy. Snacks can be a simple way to add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins throughout the day.
Vegetables can easily be eaten raw with or without a topping/dip (salad dressing, bean dips, nut butters, salsa, guacamole). You can choose to cut your own (cheaper) or buy pre-cut, based on your budget and schedule.

  • Broccoli trees
  • Baby carrots
  • Celery sticks – add some nut butter and raisins for “ants on a log”
  • Cucumber coins
  • Jicama sticks
  • Peppers – red, green or yellow
  • Snap peas
  • Snow peas
  • String beans
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Zucchini slices

Fruits are a sweet treat without any added sugars. If you are choosing canned options, look for fruit that is labeled as in its own juice, if that is not available, try a fruit in light syrup instead of heavy syrup and rinse the fruit before eating.

  •  Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes – red, green, or purple
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines

Don’t forget whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins! After you check out the produce section for what is available, take a look at the inner aisles of the supermarket for these options:

  • Applesauce (unsweetened)
  • Canned fruit (in 100% juice or water)
  • Dried fruit – try raisins, apricots, apples, cranberries, and fruit leathers with little or no added sugar
  • Frozen fruit (check the label to be sure there is just fruit and no added sugar in the bag)
  • Whole wheat English muffins, pita, or tortillas
  • Breakfast cereals – choose whole grain, low-sugar options like Cheerios, Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran or Mini-Wheats
  • Whole grain crackers like Triscuits or Wheat Thins
  • Popcorn
  • Baked tortilla chips
  • Nuts or nut butter
  • Unsweetened yogurt
  • Cheese cubes or slices
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hummus
  • Roasted chickpeas