by: Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner Michelle Ellenburg
School is back in session! For children it’s time to focus on learning – for parents it’s time to focus on keeping the family healthy during the school year. Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner Michelle Ellenburg, with SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital, has a few tips for parents, sharing ways to have a happy and healthy school year.
Rest up for better learning
During the summer, children and teens tend to go to bed later and sleep in. Their body clocks need to adjust to the earlier wake-up times for school. This is why students should start going to bed earlier.
For grade school students, experts recommend an average of 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Teens likewise need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. By keeping a regular bedtime – even on weekends – your child will be less likely to slip into sleep deprivation.
Ellenburg also recommends keeping electronics out of the bedroom. Using electronics before bed leads to poor quality sleep as well as less sleep. A relaxing, age appropriate bedtime routine can help kids wind down.
Avoiding back-to-school illness
Despite our greatest efforts, it’s not uncommon for kids to get sick at the start of a new school year.
“Back-to-school time is an excellent time for parents to make sure their children have had an annual physical and are up to date on vaccines,” says Ellenburg.
Aside from making sure your child is up to date on vaccinations, the next most important way to prevent illness is to teach your child good hand hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following:
*Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap
*Rub and scrub for 20 seconds
*Dry hands with a clean towel.
When washing with soap and water won’t work, hand sanitizer is a good alternative.
“In addition to good hand washing, keeping the counters and surfaces in your home clean with Lysol helps. Also, a daily multivitamin is great for children even when they aren’t sick. Something to look for in a vitamin that may help build their immune system is Vitamin C.” Ellenburg advised. “These vitamins are a great idea; however, they have not been proven to shorten the duration of viral illnesses. It’s just important for everyone to know they shouldn’t treat vitamins as medicine for a specific illness,” she added.
Incorporating some of these back-to-school tips into your student’s routine this year, may just contribute to a healthy and successful school year.
SSM Health Medical Group is open Monday – Friday, 7:45 am – 4:30 pm, and is located at 6205 N. Santa Fe, Suite 201, in Oklahoma City. To schedule an appointment with Michelle Ellenburg please call 405-272-8338.