Summer has screamed by once again and my daughter is all set to start first grade tomorrow. We met her teacher yesterday, dropped her school supplies off, and did a final round of school lunch supply shopping. We start early compared to most of the country, and have been madly trying to cram as much fun into our last few days as possible. In between the fun, there are a few things that we as parents can do to prep our kids and boost their immune systems prior to the first day of school. Here are a few suggestions that may help your child get ready for their first day of school.
Ease into your back to school routine.
- Move bedtime back early so you and your child’s bodies can adjust easier.
- Discuss any anxieties your child may have about starting a new school year.
- Establish expectations on school routines: include at the very minimum homework, bedtime, playtime, and any after school obligations.
Make sure you’re organized and ready for the new school year.
- Most schools will send out a packet of information including any forms and supplies your child may need to start school. Be sure to review this information in good time, so you are not rushing around at the last minute.
- Go shopping for supplies, school clothes, and uniforms (if necessary) a couple weeks ahead of time to be sure you find everything you need.
- For many of us, mornings are stressful and it is easy to forget something if we’re running around trying to catch up. Try establishing a policy that your child helps get everything ready the night before to alleviate any morning-of stress.
Consider your child’s nutrition needs and plan healthy meals ahead of time.
- Breakfast, especially a hot breakfast with protein is the most important meal of the day. If you can’t coax a hot meal down your child’s throat in the morning, one solution my mom used was to make an eggnog drink (eggs, milk, maple syrup, a little vanilla) and we could take that on the run. Another option in our house was a protein drink made with a whey protein powder and it could very easily be added to a fruit/yogurt smoothie.
- Plan for lunches ahead of time and involve your children in making choices and if they’re old enough, the preparation. The more involvement your child has in the decision making, the more likely they will be willing to eat their lunch and not throw it out. Growing up in our house, we had a ‘five veggie rule’ which was applied to most everything we ate, but especially to sandwiches. Offer a variety of vegetables, in a variety of colors to ensure your child is eating a varied, balanced diet.
- Be sure that your child’s school has a workable water option. If they don’t, pack water for your child every day. Many schools have a minimal number of water fountains to service a large number of students and other options for liquids are juice or milk. Without adequate water, your child will easily become dehydrated and not only will their performance in school suffer, but they are more likely to have discipline and concentration issues.
- Make sure your children get an adequate amount of high quality food—organic if at all possible—and include appropriate amounts of protein, quality oils, vegetables, and fruit.
Keeping your child healthy through the start of the school year.
- Most importantly, ensure your child gets an adequate amount of sleep. If you observe your child coming home tired with dark circles under their eyes, or being unusually irritable, act before the first sneeze. One of the first principles in Traditional Chinese Medicine to reverse the common cold (viral) is to “relieve the surface,” i.e., induce perspiration. This is easy to do with hot soup, hot tea, and a hot bath or shower, or even exercising until perspiration appears. Vitamin C and L. acidophilus are useful in helping to prevent your child from getting sick.
- About three weeks prior to school starting, you may want to give your child Immune for Kids, a gentle way to boost their immune system in preparation for going back to school. This can be used in advance of any anticipated stressful event and will help prevent your child from possibly getting sick when they can least afford it.
- If your child is already showing signs of illness or is feeling under the weather, Sniffles for Kids, Deep Lung 3 in 1 and Anti-X, a decoction of anti-viral herbs, focuses on the upper-respiratory system and is appropriate for all stages of cold and flu including sneezing, muscle aches, sinus involvement, headaches and mucous. If your child has a tendency toward sore throats, you may make a cup of Traditional Medicinals’ Throat Coat tea or use Chinese Cold & Flu. For coughing, tea of lemon and honey and Elderberry Plus is very soothing and palatable. If the infection slips by you and gets to the bronchi or lower, Deep Lung is helpful.
- Make sure your children are dressed appropriately in layers so they will stay warm while waiting for the bus in the morning and can stay comfortable and cool in the warmer afternoons. The biggest challenge with this is making sure all of their clothing makes it home.