Back-to-School Guide to Keeping Your Kids Healthy – Atrium Health

Getting your kids ready for school this fall goes beyond preparing them for the first day. From getting the right amount of sleep to eating the right foods, Atrium Health Levine Children’s pediatricians are sharing how you can set your child up for a healthy, successful year.
“School anxiety or nervousness is very common among my patients,” says Dr. Chpryelle Carr, pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Rea Village Pediatrics. “The most important thing parents can do is to acknowledge the fear. Ignoring anxiety or stress related to school can often make their feelings worse.”
At the end of the day, acknowledging and easing any anxiety can make the school experience enjoyable for all. Ready this article for more ways to help ease back-to-school jitters
For breakfast, a protein-rich meal helps children focus and keeps blood sugar more stable. “Many parents struggle with finding protein sources when the morning is rushed,” says Dr. Rhonda Patt, pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Charlotte Pediatrics in SouthPark.
Nut butters, yogurt, milk and eggs are good options in the morning and should be combined with whole grains and fruit. 
For lunch, sandwiches with whole grain bread, plus a serving of fruits or veggies, is a great plan. For kids who don’t like sandwiches, consider string cheese or other low-fat cheese or yogurt to bump up the protein.
“If your child has a medical condition, it’s important to think about how this may impact your child’s school day or the possible risks for your child in the school environment,” says Patt.
“As classroom requirements increase, PE and recess often get pushed aside,” says Dr. Stephanie Sherrill,pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Suburban Pediatrics. “Many kids also face a mountain of homework after school, so it can be difficult (but not impossible) to fit in fitness.” 
Here’s how you can make sure your kids stay fit after sitting all day at school:
“Bottom line, your kids want to spend time with you, so get active with them. You’ll get as much out of it as your kids do,” says Sherrill.
“Let’s face it – going to school exposes kids to a lot of germs,” says Dr. Ana Vega, pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Piedmont Pediatrics. “While there’s no way to completely prevent them from picking up a bug, you can reduce their chances of getting and spreading common illnesses.” 
Here are some simple steps:
“Finding success in the classroom starts at home, and you can help your child reach their full potential,” says Vega. 
Here’s how parents can step in to help their kids step up:
Many children struggle with adjusting to a new sleep schedule when school starts in the fall,” says Betsy Armentrout, MD, pediatrician at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Ford, Simpson, Lively and Rice Pediatrics. “This can be even more difficult for teens, whose natural sleep cycle may be to stay up late and sleep in the next day.”
Sleep requirements differ from person to person, but there are some general guidelines. Most school-age children will need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, while most teens will require 8 to 10 hours.  
Here’s how you can help them get the hours they need as they leave summer behind.
Helping your children be their best can be hard work. Our pediatricians are here to help – all the way from kindergarten to high school graduation and beyond. Learn more about our pediatrics services and find a pediatrician near you.
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