Advice from experts on increasing back-to-school success

Columbia, S.C. – For children and families, some of the best things about summer are sunny days, more downtime and more flexible schedules. It often feels like summer slams to a halt as kids head back to school.

According to experts, establishing routines helps ease the transition. “It can take a while for kids to make the shift from the lazy days of summer to the demands of the school year,” said Lloyd Kapp, M.D., a pediatrician and medical director at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina. “Studies show that children learn better when they have a consistent routine. You get that by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and spending at least an hour exercising. As parents, it’s up to us to prepare them outside of class so they excel in class.”

According to Kapp, a good practice for parents is the 5-2-1-0 program approved by the South Carolina Medical Association and the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The program recommends (daily): at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of recreational screen time, at least one hour of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

More tips for success:

Get a Physical

Start healthy. All kids need to get an annual physical exam from their primary care provider.

Varied Vaccines

Make sure your child’s vaccines are up to date. There are different vaccines recommended for different ages such as middle and high school kids compared to elementary age, so check with your child’s pediatrician.

Make Good Sleep Habits a Priority

All children need to get the appropriate amount of sleep for their age. Establish a set bedtime.

Preschoolers (3-5 years need 10 – 13 hours)

School-aged (6-13 years need 9 – 11 hours)

Teenagers (14-17 years need 8 – 10 hours)

Eat Healthy

A balanced diet helps with learning and activities like sports, art and music. One easy way to help your child eat healthy is encouraging him or her to eat plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, better known as beans, peas and lentils. If possible, cook more at home.

Sharing a meal together is family time, and will limit the amount of processed foods your children consume.

Exercise Daily

This applies to all kids of all ages. Moving is important for the body and mind. Children need to play or exercise for at least an hour or more a day, as it helps build strong, healthy muscles, as well as bones and joints.

Author: Duane Childers

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