written by: Elysia Arseneau, Ontario Certified Teacher and NutriChem staff writer
Getting ready for back-to-school involves more than buying new school supplies and choosing the perfect first day outfit. To best prepare for heading back to the classroom or daycare, here are some tips (from a classroom teacher!) so the whole family can stay physically and mentally healthy this September.
Encourage proper hand washing.
The most effective way to avoid spreading or catching germs is with proper hand washing using soap and warm water (not too hot, but not cold either!). Ask children to sing the alphabet song or the “Happy Birthday” song as they scrub the front and backs of their hands, as well as in between fingers. Scrubbing for 15-20 seconds is recommended.
Click here to be directed to the City of Ottawa's resources on preventing the spread of germs, which includes free printables like this poster:
Cough and sneeze into your elbow crook.
We use our hands to touch everything: that means touching things with germs on them, but also spreading our own germs to objects. To prevent the spread of germs we shouldn’t ever use our hands to cover our mouth when we sneeze or cough. Instead, use the inside of the elbow, which hardly ever touches anything!
A fun rhyme for children is "Cough or sneeze into your sleeve!". (For those who are rhythmically inclined, the beat is on words "cough", "sneeze" "-to" "sleeve".)
Here is a helpful resource, including printable posters, from Carnegie Mellon University Health Services:
Say no to sugar.
Many lunchboxes have sugar hiding in them, from the obvious sweet treats and soft drinks to the less obvious yogurt tubes, simple carbohydrates, processed foods and juice boxes. Did you know that sugar suppresses the immune system? Give your children’s immune systems a fighting chance and limit their sugar intake.
Search "recipe" on the NutriChem blog for healthy meal and snack recipes that the whole family is sure to enjoy! Our recipes are created by our amazing Registered Holistic Nutritionists, so you know they're healthy, as well as (usually!) easy to make, gluten-free, dairy-free, and allergen-free.
We're also on Pinterest: follow us!! Click this image to access our recipe board:
With all the bad germs around, we need to boost our “good” bacteria levels to help ward off the unwanted intruders that can cause illness. Take a minimum of 10 billion cfu’s per day, and more if you feel any symptoms of illness starting.
Our favourite probiotics are Nutridophilus Essentials, Pure Encapsulations Probiotic 5 or Probiotic 50B, and for children over 1 year old Genestra HMF Forte powder.
Increase and improve rest time and sleep.
It almost seems too simple to recommend, but frankly too many of us are focusing on the “hustle and bustle” side of life and forgetting to properly rest! Downtime is important for our physical and mental health at all ages, and sleep is when our body heals and regenerates itself. Getting 7-8 hours of good sleep at night can have a positive effect on an adult’s health, and it's recommended that school-aged children sleep 8-12 hours per night, depending on age.
Back-to-school can be hard on children and teens after a more carefree and relaxed summer. Help your child (and you!) with the transition by shifting into school-year sleeping and waking hours the week before school starts. Consider also cutting back on screen time (including phones, tablets, game consoles, TVs and computers) and encouraging reading and playing quiet games 1-2 hours before bedtime. (Below image from this physiotherapist who has their own reasons for recommending that we all get outside more often.)
Consider immune systems boosters.
In addition to taking probiotics, proven immunity boosters include Vitamin C, Zinc and Astragalus. If you'd like some help of guidance with these, speak to your health care practitioner or NutriChem staff. You can also read more about suggested doses in our “Holiday Immune Boosting” blog post.
With all that said, we all hope you and your loved ones have a happy and safe back-to-school!
Please share this post with anyone who'd benefit from these health tips from a teacher!