See You in September was a great song as a kid by a group called The Happenings. I always thought of it when I started school each fall. Now I can relate with the parents who see the TV commercial for back to school with the Most Wonderful Time of the Year song playing in the background. No matter which side of the back-to-school situation you are on, it is a fresh start!
September starts to change a little bit of everything. The weather makes changes, the kids are going through changes, the parents are going through changes, and those changes mean that we need to make changes in our lifestyles as well. This year might be even a bigger change than most for the kids, because it might be the first time for many of them that they get to spend a whole day in school even though they are in the middle of elementary school years.
This month we will be focusing on the kids and how we can give them the biggest advantage we can in school this year. The past two years has taught us that we need to focus on our children’s health more than ever. The best way for us to do that is to do all we can to keep their immune systems working a peak efficiency. A great place to start is with getting the proper amount of rest. Rest and sleep are super important because that is when the body repairs cells and tissues that get worn out, stressed, or damaged through the day’s activities. Studies have shown that 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night helps maintain good health and optimum mental function on elementary aged students. These are the children most likely to resist this change when we move from summer to fall, but I would advise you to stand firm and make sure they get that good rest.
The Junior High and Senior High students actually require even more sleep. They need 10 to 12 hours per night due to the rapid secondary growth changes that are occurring in their bodies. We never seemed to have an issue with our kids at that age getting sleep. In fact, they seemed to do it all the time.
We need to make sure the kids start their day right! A well balanced and nutritious breakfast is a step in the right direction. The older kids are going to resist this a bit more than the younger kids. I always suspected it was because the older kids were trying to get a few more minutes of sleep and were willing to sacrifice breakfast for that sleep! Try to make sure that they get some carbohydrates in the form of fruit and cereal in the morning. These foods are digested quickly and will give them an energy boost to start their day. I would advise adding a protein maybe as an egg or even a peanut buttered bagel or muffin. The protein takes longer to digest and will work to keep those blood sugar levels up until they get to lunch.
Most schools are very much in line with allowing the kids to bring small easy to eat snack for mid-morning as well as their own supply of water. This is a great idea and will help keep them mentally awake and sharp through the day.
Another important point is to make sure the kids are making the proper changes in weather related attire. When the temperature drops, the body’s response is to try to conserve heat. This action within the body places a huge stress on the immune system and will weaken it very quickly. I understand that most of these kids are very fashion sensitive, but common sense needs to rule the day. Weather appropriate clothing will help keep the kids healthy and in school, not at home on the couch because they are sick.
I know everyone knows these things, but often times knowing and doing are two different things. I hope this reminder helps everyone. I want to wish all the kids, parents, and teachers a great school year!