The back to school to do list can be overwhelming: countless school supplies to buy, piles of forms to complete and the tricky transition into a more structured schedule. Keep your family healthy by keeping wellness on top of the list in the following ways:
Pennsylvania requires that a physical examination be submitted to the school nurse at three separate times during your student’s education: on entry (either Kindergarten or first grade), 6th grade and again in 11th grade. Don’t forget to check that your children’s vaccinations are up to date. Fill out school health information forms completely and notify the nurse if your child needs to keep any medications at school. Make sure your child’s emergency telephone number card is accurate and kept current.
Safe backpack use:
The West Chester Area School District appointed a backpack safety committee after increasing reports of damage to students’ backs through use of heavy backpacks. The committee instructs students to wear backpacks snugly, but not tight, over both shoulders and have the pack rest in the middle of the back. If it hangs too low, the upper back and shoulders bear all of the weight. To load the backpack, they advise putting heaviest items in first, closest to your back and to carry only what is needed.
Green school supplies:
According to the Sierra Club, families spend $85 a year on disposable plastic baggies used to pack sandwiches and snacks for school lunches. A waste-free and fun alternative are reusable bags made from organic cotton and recycled plastic which can be found in many styles and colors. They can be machine washed and dried, washed in the dishwasher or simply wiped clean with a soapy sponge. Two brands found in West Chester are Lunchskins at Penwick Design and Snack Taxis at Pete’s Produce Market.
Healthy lunch snacks:
Now that you have cute re-usable bags, what healthy snacks can you pack in them and gain your kids’ approval? A new, healthy alternative to processed snacks, recommended by Curious Parents of PA, NJ and DE is the Go Go squeeZ, the first squeezable no-mess applesauce for kids in five different flavors (apple, strawberry, cinnamon, banana and peach) Buy it at Whole Foods in Devon. For the more ambitious, try out some unique homemade snack recipes like kale chips, crispy crunchy roasted chickpeas, and cocoa dusted hazel nuggets courtesy of Marla Meridith of Simply Organic. Look here for a wide variety of other healthy lunch box ideas.
After school structure:
After-school plans should allow time for homework, some down time and a reasonable bedtime. The U.S. Department of Education says to make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework and to avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that “before the new school year starts, youngsters should start to change their summertime sleep habits. If they don’t, they could end up suffering a sleep deficit that could affect their performance in school.”