Tips to help your kids stay healthy as the school year begins
Across Queensland, thousands of children are getting ready for the school year to begin.
Here are some tips for parents so their children can have a happy and healthy start to 2019.
What you can expect
Illness spreads quickly in the schoolyard due to the close proximity of people, and the fact children’s immune systems are more vulnerable than those of adults.
Some common illnesses at school include:
- Common cold – symptoms include sneezing, sore throat and runny nose
- Head lice – symptoms include itching behind the ears (regular hair checks are recommended)
- Conjunctivitis – symptoms include redness, irritation and puffy eyes
- Chickenpox – symptoms include red rash, fatigue and flu like symptoms
- Norovirus gastroenteritis – symptoms include nausea, cramps and vomiting.
A more serious condition which spikes at the start of the school year is asthma.
One in nine Australian children lives with asthma, and during February up to one quarter of asthma-related children’s hospital admissions occur.
According to respiratory paediatrician and National Asthma Council Australia spokesperson, Dr Louisa Owens, return to school was a particularly dangerous time for children with asthma.
“Possibly causes for flare-ups in February include not taking medication as prescribed during the summer holidays; the stress of returning to school; allergic triggers at school such as mould and dust, and close quarters with new classmates who can bring a new batch of cold and flu bugs,” Dr Owens said.
“For parents and carers, if you see your child is using more of their blue reliever, make sure you take them to the GP to have their asthma reviewed.”
Tips to staying healthy
While it can seem nearly impossible to keep your children healthy as illnesses spread from classroom to classroom, there are some things you can do to help boost their immune system and keep them fighting fit.
When packing kids’ lunches, think colour and add fruits or vegetables, such as carrot or celery with dip, to ensure your kids are eating healthily.
A few other ideas for lunch choices include savoury muffins, wraps, sandwiches or salad. Try switching up the meat and filling choices so your children have something new a few times each week.
As hot temperatures continue, it’s important your children are drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
A few tips to helping your child drink water throughout the day include freezing one quarter of a water bottle the night before, so they have cold water the following day, or adding natural flavours such as lemon, mint or apple.
Heading back to school also means helping your child get back to a healthy routine, including getting the right amount of sleep.
If your child isn’t getting enough sleep to properly function, there can be negative impacts on their ability to concentrate in class and absorb information, as well as on their overall health.
According to the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep, children who don’t get enough sleep at night can suffer from a weaker immune system and increased obesity.
Queensland child sleep expert Amanda Bude says many parents often don’t realise how much sleep their children actually need.
“On average children are not getting enough sleep and we need to remember that guidelines are not set in stone and a well-rested child can have high sleep needs or low sleep needs. Not all children are the same,” Ms Bude said.
Use eight hours sleep as a guideline for how much your child should be sleeping, but don’t be concerned if they require more or less – they’re still growing and finding what suits them.