Friday, February 23, 2018

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Growing Healthy Grade By Grade

Written by  Brandy Centolanza

All parents want their children to start off the new school year fresh and healthy! Here are some safety and wellness tips to keep in mind to reduce the risk of illness or injury depending on what grade your son or daughter is entering this year.

Kindergarten: Starting the school year off right begins with getting the proper amount of sleep, regardless of what grade your child is going into. Children ages six to twelve need nine to twelve hours of sleep and middle and high schoolers need eight to ten hours, but “most kids are not getting enough rest,” says Meredith M. Arthur, DO, a pediatrician with Physicians to Children, Inc. Dr. Arthur suggests returning to a regular bedtime routine at least three weeks before the first day of school, and shutting down all electronic devices at least two hours before bed each night.

1st Grade: Practice good proper dental hygiene to protect your child’s teeth. “Children in elementary school have lots of baby teeth that are designed to keep space for their adult teeth,” says Richard Anthony, DDS with Richard L. Anthony, DDS. “Flossing is very important because the most cavities we see are in between teeth. It's also very important to get routine fluoride at your dental office.”

2nd Grade: As children start heading off to the school bus stop on their own, remind them of school bus safety: look both ways before crossing a street, wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before stepping off the curb, and remain seated while the bus is in motion. Parents may also wish to reiterate “stranger dangers” rules.

3rd Grade: Take steps to avoid the spread of germs and illnesses. Practice good hand-washing hygiene, and don’t forget to take your child for a flu shot every year. Do not send your child to school if they are vomiting or have diarrhea, if they have a fever, or if they are not feeling well enough to learn while in school. Children should be fever-free for 24 hours before they return to the classroom.

4th Grade: Asthma and allergies may hinder a child’s ability to learn. “A child with significant nasal congestion, sinus pressure, runny nose, and itchy watery eyes is not going to be able to optimally concentrate on their school work and athletic performance may also be affected,” says Saju Eapen, MD with Asthma & Allergy Center. “It is important to determine what you are allergic to specifically so that these can be avoided and relief of symptoms can be achieved through targeted avoidance measures and appropriate medications.”

5th Grade: Students should not carry a bookbag that weighs more than ten to 15 percent of their body weight. Ensure your child wears his or her backpack correctly, with the weight of the bag evenly distributed across the body in order to avoid shoulder, neck, or back injuries.

6th Grade: Students become more involved in sports activities in middle school. For maximum performance, ensure your student athlete is up-to-date on any physical examinations; chooses the right team for his or her size, weight, and skill; uses safe equipment; and knows when his or her body has had enough and needs time to rest.

7th Grade: Set limits with your children with regards to social media usage to avoid potential issues with cyberbullying. “Have an open conversation with your kids about social media and their screen time,” recommends Dr. Arthur. “Talk to them about when they will use social media, what they will chat about, or what they plan to post about online. Most of what they are posting should be seen by a parent before they post it.” If you suspect your child is a victim of cyberbullying, consider talking to your pediatrician or a counselor.

8th Grade: Assist children with the development of good homework and study habits, including organization. To alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue or brain fatigue during study sessions, students should take frequent breaks, getting up to stretch or have a snack.

9th Grade: Make sure your child is eating healthy throughout the day and is not skipping meals, especially breakfast. “Have them grab something small before they rush out the door, whether it is a piece of string cheese or yogurt, something with protein and nutrition,” says Dr. Arthur.

10th Grade: By now, your child should have all their adult teeth and should have developed good dental habits. “Once you've hit high school, your adult teeth are here to stay,” states Dr. Anthony. “Continue to brush and floss, and speak to your dentist about a wisdom tooth evaluation. Remember that there's lots of sugar in the sports drinks that you may be drinking. This sugar will coat your teeth and cause cavities. Keep in mind that mouthwashes do work but they do not substitute for brushing and flossing.”

11th Grade: Remind your teen driver about the seriousness of avoiding cell phone usage while they are behind the wheel. Texting while driving “is a big deal,” says Dr. Arthur. “I recommend they keep their cell phone in the glove compartment or the trunk so they aren’t distracted.”

12th Grade: Kids this age still need plenty of physical activity. Encourage your child to find time during the day for exercise, whether it’s walking or biking to school, or trying an exercise video. Developing proper fitness habits now will set them up for life.