Robrt L. Pela

ABCs of health care

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Basic health habits for school-bound kids

An apple a day is no longer enough, especially as your children prepare to launch another school year. Here are some quick tips to make this a healthy and happy fall semester.

It’s nice to share, but …
We all want Johnny and Janie to understand the importance of sharing, but shared pencils, pens, crayons and gaming devices can also mean sharing germs. Teach your kids that, if their classmates are sick, it is okay to keep a polite distance. Sharing food and drinks with school friends isn’t a wise choice, either. If they must, kids can tear off a bite of sandwich that hasn’t been bitten into by their friend, and can take a swig of a pal’s orange juice by first pouring it into a disposable cup.

Play hooky
Keep your kids at home when they’re not well. Make sure that the school nurse knows their symptoms; he or she may have some news about any trends in illness that are making the rounds.

Visit your doctor
An annual physical is a good idea, and a once-over by vision and hearing specialists every couple of years can’t hurt, either. Your general practitioner will keep an eye open for current health issues and can manage your child’s immunizations, as well.

Get handy
If children can learn their multiplication tables, they can also learn to keep their hands clean and free of germs. The best way to prevent flu and colds in any season is to wash one’s hands before eating, after visiting the restroom and as soon as they get home from school. Just like reciting the alphabet, there is a correct way to wash hands, and mom or dad can teach this valuable lesson before the first day of school. A good back-to-school gift is a package of hand-sanitizing wipes tucked into a grade-schooler’s backpack.

Germ patrol
The best way to ace a spelling test is to study, and the best way to spread germs is with an ill-placed cough or sneeze. Teach kids how to cover their mouths when coughing, or to cough into a bent elbow, and to carry a disposable tissue to sneeze into. 

Get involved
Worried that your kid isn’t using hand sanitizer after petting the class hamster? Donate a tub of sanitizer (or, if the classroom has a sink, a cake of soap) to the teacher. Fearful that the classroom isn’t clean enough? Offer to help out on a volunteer cleaning crew.

Start with a strong foundation
Kids are less likely to get sick if they are healthy to begin with. A well-balanced diet is a must, and plenty of exercise will keep them in tip-top shape as well. A good night’s sleep will keep them on their toes, and can reduce stress, a real immunity-squelcher, besides.

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