Tips to keep children healthy

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Graceann Jones, RN, LCSD Lead Nurse

Our children will be healthier and more successful in school if parents make sure their children do some very simple things.

In fact, taking these simple steps to make sure children are healthy — both mentally and physically — are probably the most important factors in how he or she does in school.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Rest and sleep. Make sure your child gets enough sleep each night. When students don’t get a proper night’s rest, their performance and mood in class can be affected. Students are better able to meet the challenges of the day with appropriate rest and sleep – no matter if they’re first graders or seniors.
  • Eat breakfast and healthy food. Eat breakfast every morning. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that students who eat breakfast are more alert in the class and perform at a higher level. Our bodies are empty after a night’s sleep and need to be refueled.
    Make sure your children eat balanced meals. Foods high in sugar should not be commonly eaten. Make sure your children get a variety of grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products – every day.
    A great way to get your children thinking about healthy eating habits is to have them keep a record for one week of everything they eat – from meals to snacks, then sit down and figure out the nutritional value and amount of calories, fat and sugar they took in. It’s usually a real eye-opener for both kids and parents.
  • Exercise. Be physically active every day! Have your children take part in physical activities they enjoy. Daily exercise strengthens our bodies, reduces weight and relieves stress.
  • Handwashing. Handwashing is the single most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of infection.
    Recent studies show that our hands are the most common transmitters of disease. Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently during the day.
    As the new school year begins and students are grouped together in large numbers, handwashing is a key measure in the prevention of H1N1, seasonal flu and other communicable diseases.
  • Immunizations. Make sure all of your children’s immunizations are up-to-date. Students admitted to school must have a valid S. C. Certificate of Immunization. School standards apply to grades 5K through 12. Day Care requirements apply to children enrolled in PreK and 4K programs. For details on immunizations, please contact your private physician, Lancaster County Health Department or your school nurse.
  • Medication policy. Any medication – over-the-counter or prescription – to be given during the school day, must be brought to the school nurse’s office and locked in a centralized location for safety measures. The only exception would be if it is authorized in the student’s Individualized Health Care Plan(IHP). The parent/guardian must complete a Permission to Dispense Medication Form for medications given. The school nurse will provide these to the parent/guardian, and if the forms are not returned, medication will not be given at school.
    Medications must be current, in the original container, and properly labeled. If there is a question concerning the medication, the School Nurse will contact the parent.
  • Individualized Health Care Plans. The school district will provide Individualized Health Care Plans (IHP) for students with special health care needs. These plans provide for monitoring and care during the school day or at school-sponsored events.

Contact your child’s school nurse if you have any health care concerns. Our district’s Nursing Staff looks forward to serving you in the 2012-13 school year. Together, we can make this a great year for our children – both health wise and academically.