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Put health on your back-to-school checklist

Adjusting children from the relaxing days of summer to a healthy back-to-school routine can be tough for families, but doctors at BC Children’s Hospital have recommendations that can help smooth the transition.
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​From anxiety to meal planning, here are tips from the children’s health experts.

Reduce anxiety

  • Try to get into the regular school meal and bedtime routine in the week before school starts.
  • Visit the school playground  to get familiar with it again.
  • Try practicing the skills your child will need to be independent, such as opening lunch containers, tying shoes and zipping coats.
  • Throughout the school year, encourage your child to share his or her fears by setting up a regular time to talk.
  • Help your child develop healthy coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Be mindful of your own behaviour. Model confidence and comfort when your child is anxious.
  • Focus on the positive and celebrate small accomplishments.

Get a good sleep:

  • Keep a routine. Wake up and put kids to sleep at the same time each day.
  • Avoid allowing caffeine in the afternoon and evenings.
  • Encourage kids to be active during the day for a more restful sleep.
  • Avoid the TV, phone and computer before bed.

Current Health Canada guidelines recommend:

  • 9–11 hours of sleep a night for children ages 5–13 years old
  • 8–10 hours of sleep a night for children 14–17 years old

Teachable tips to avoid bullying:

  • Respond assertively by saying "stop," ask a question or change the subject.
  • Avoid kids who bully or move away with your head up and shoulders back.
  • Find friends and allies to keep from becoming a target.
  • Report bullying behaviours to adults and authorities.
  • Be a caring bystander and refuse to be an audience for bullying.

Meal planning:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods.
  • Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.
  • Limit the amount of processed food and drinks you pack in lunches.
  • Avoid foods with added sugar, saturated fats or added sodium.
  • Send a water bottle to school.
  • Pack a hand wipe for hand cleaning before snack time.

Concussion safety:

  • Bike helmets can prevent serious injury, but concussion can still occur during a bad fall.
  • Whether kids are biking, scootering, playing sports or climbing on a playground, be aware that the signs and symptoms of concussion are: confusion, headache, dizziness, seeing stars, hearing ringing, vision changes, nausea, slurred speech or loss of consciousness.
  • When to call 911: neck pain, repeated vomiting, growing confusion, seizures, headache increasing in severity, or weakness or tingling in arms or legs.
  • If a concussion is suspected, remove the child from the activity and do not let them return to play. Teach children to know when to raise the red flag too.
  • Be aware concussion symptoms can be delayed for up to 48 hours.
  • If you think your child does have a concussion, take them to a doctor and follow a proper step-by-step strategy for recovery that has a gradual return to the activity or school.

Get Vaccinated

The BC government has approved the Vaccination Status Reporting Regulation requiring parents or guardians to report the vaccination status of their school-age children.  

  • Check out the vaccine schedules for children, see HealthLinkBC: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/tools-videos/bc-immunization-schedules#child
  • Find a vaccination clinic map on the Immunize BC website: https://immunizebc.ca/finder
  • Keep an eye out for measles symptoms which include: fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, small red spots in the mouth (spots have white or bluish-white centers), and a red blotchy rash that starts on the face and spreads to the arms and legs.
  • Report an illness – if you think you or someone in your family has contracted measles, stay home and contact the Public Health Team. If you live in the Vancouver Coastal Health area, call 604-675-3900. If you live outside of this area, call HealthLink at 8-1-1.
  • Watch the BC Children's Hospital video on why immunization is important for yourself, your family and your community:
 


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