CSP Team Note: This article was originally published on the Atrium Health blog. We thank them for letting us share it with you!
The school year is upon us. Josh Martin, MD, of Charlotte Pediatric Clinic – SouthPark, shares top tips to set your child up for success. From homework to after-school activities, the school year keeps kids (and moms and dads) busy. With so much going on, it’s a good idea to encourage your child to take up habits that will keep them healthy and successful all year long. Josh Martin, MD, of Charlotte Pediatric Clinic – SouthPark, shares his top tips to set your child up for school success.
1. Get your ZZZs
It’s true – kids need a lot of shut-eye. On average, children between ages 5 and 12 typically need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, while older children need 8 to 9 hours.
Dr. Martin says that good sleep habits are not only difficult to start, they’re also easy to break. “When heading back into the year, it’s a good idea to start going to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier every night so we can ease our bodies into a school schedule,” says Dr. Martin.
Setting a bedtime routine often helps to ease kids into an efficient sleep cycle. Dr. Martin suggests focusing on what he calls “The B’s” before heading to bed: Bathe, Bottle, Brush, Book and Bed, with age-appropriate adjustments made as the child grows older.
2. Keep your family germ-free
Stepping into the classroom for the first time during the school year can also pose an additional threat of increased exposure to germs. In order to prevent your child from getting sick and having to miss any days of school, Dr. Martin stresses the importance of keeping kids germ-free by having your child wash their hands as much as possible – after using the bathroom, after coming in from the playground, and after coming home from school.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Proper nutrition and exercise are other important aspects of establishing a successful school year. “Your body is a machine and runs on the fuel you give it,” says Dr. Martin. “If you give your body good, healthy fruits and vegetables, it’ll run like a dream. If you give your child food with processed sugar, don’t be surprised if they crash halfway through the day.”
In addition to healthy diets, it’s equally as important for children to stay active. While regular exercise is generally recognized for its physical benefits, studies reliably show it’s also associated with improved academic performance. Get your child to engage in 30 to 60 minutes of organized activity or free play each day. Join the kids in outdoor playtime and reap the benefits!
4. Start a routine
“Success in school starts with good routines,” says Dr. Martin. Scheduled routines become especially important in regard to eating, sleeping, physical activity, lack of screen time and reading each day.
It’s also critical to note that children absorb a tremendous amount of information simply by watching their parents. Therefore, it’s important for parents to set the tone by establishing defined routines of their own and involving their kids in these routine habits.
5. Minimize screen time
In this day and age, parents everywhere should be extra careful to monitor their child’s exposure to screens. Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics set a guideline for parents to limit their child’s screen intake to two hours a day. But as we are increasingly reliant on digital media, this is proving more difficult to enforce.
“I cannot overstate the importance of building a life in which screens are excluded as much as modernity will dictate,” says Dr. Martin. “Life can, and should, be lived and engaged in good physical activity, good company or a good book.”