OSF Healthcare providing back to school tips for parents

Back to school is here for some and just around the corner for others.

As the school year gets underway, OSF Healthcare is spreading healthy tips to parents to keep the kids out of the hospital and in the classrooms.

Tips range from carrying fewer books in backpacks, bringing healthy snacks to school, or even sitting down for a family dinner every night.

Because schools are a hub for many children from so many different households, Jeanie Sullivan, Child Care Specialist for OSF Healthcare, says that students need to be taught how to keep themselves free of germs by washing up.

“Encouraging children to wash their hands frequently at school. Again, it’s not on the teachers, you got to teach the children to think about it and do it themselves many times a day”, says Sullivan. “So, when I teach handwashing were’ talking about how many different times we should be washing our hands. After touching pets, after playing out on the playground, after going to the bathroom, after eating and, you know, before eating. So, trying to encourage them to kind of think about it and it becomes routine.”

Sullivan also stresses the importance of students getting breakfast at the start of the day, something high in protein.

It’s not just about getting good food or staying clean though. Making sure that students are getting plenty of sleep is just as important. Students around the age of ten need an average of ten hours of sleep.

How do you know if your child is getting plenty of sleep? OSF Neurologist Dr. Sarah Zallek says that there are some signs.

“If your child is sleepy, falling asleep or feeling like they have to resist sleep during the daytime, that’s the first clue,” said Dr. Zallek. “The second clue is if they are inattentive or not paying attention or not sitting still, all those can be related to not getting enough sleep.”

To help encourage good sleeping, Zallek has a few suggestions.

“If you have sort of a routine that happens relatively the same each night: dinner, playtime, bath time, storytime, brush teeth, however, you do it. Having kind of the same routine each night helps the child consciously and unconsciously realize that it’s time for sleep to happen,” she said.

The healthcare provider also gives some other advice to help your child fall into a good sleep routine. Tips like cutting out caffeine for your children, prioritize sleep, modeling good sleep behavior, and reserving the bed and bedroom for sleeping only.