Rebecca loves to look after all people, especially those who are still growing, their bodies forming. With this in mind, Becky shares her thoughts for a guide to a happy, healthy start to the academic year. School’s back!
In this current blog I want to give you parents a succinct ‘go to’ guide for creating a great healthy and happy start of the new academic year
- Great time to start new habits. Create a lasting change in your child’s life by implementing some of those ‘habits’ you’ve always been meaning to. You don’t need to get everything right from the outset. Put a few little things in place and slowly add or remove as the days and weeks go along. Habits like going to bed 30mins earlier and getting up 30mins earlier to make sure everyone eats breakfast. Cutting down on the cereals and replacing them with porridge, fruit or plain Greek yogurt is another example. You can even go for pancakes made with coconut flour.
- Bedtime routines. Much like I have to do with my little miniature schnauzer puppy, Winston, we have a bedtime ritual. We ‘try’ to tire him out throughout the day with walks, training, interactions with our clients in the clinic and meeting other dogs. We then have quiet time an hour or so before bed. Lastly we then take him out for a toilet stop. These all happen at the same time each evening and we are all in bed by 10pm. Often even on a weekend. And no, he is not allowed to sleep upstairs with us! Children, although much more complex also need good routines especially at night time. You must have noticed if you stay up late with the children during the weekend or at holidays, the nightmare it is to try to cajole them out of their comfortable beds come Monday morning. Some tips are to have no screen time an hour before bed, have a bath or back rub, quietly relax with a book or music to slowly turn off the overstimulated mind.
- Pack lunches and meal times – sugar and synthetics. I remember watching a tv documentary on BBC: In the hour it separated a children’s birthday party into two groups. Allowing half the kids to eat typical party food consisting of cake, crisps, pizza, chocolate, and sweets, whilst the other half of the kids where given healthy snacks eg carrots, fruit, corn on the cob, vegetable crisps etc. The room was also divided so that play could be observed. I’m sure you’ve guessed the outcome! There was a huge difference in the volume and energy of the kids on each side. The kids given high sugar and processed foods were screaming, loud, over bearing, crying and hyper, whilst the other kids played relatively quietly, didn’t make each other scream or cry and playing well together. The experiment continued and asked the parents to monitor the children at home for the following hours. Again a stark difference in the kids were noted even a couple of hours later. I’m sure most people now know this however the stats are showing that knowledge is not power in this instance. I can only assume it’s either due to convenience, cost, guilt, or ignorance thinking it’ll be ok. Children are getting fatter and sicker than ever and it’s our responsibility to help in whatever way we can.
- Shoes and backpacks.
According to the British Chiropractic Association, backpacks can cause some types of back pain in children. Heavily loaded bags worn unequally over the shoulder, on an already weak body (like a child who plays video games, sits around watching tv and doesn’t enjoy exercise) is prone to getting back problems. The United chiropractic association agrees with these findings even
a non Chiro association but a charity BackCare says too many children suffer with back pain. Shoes are another possible cause of foot, knee and back problems. Shoes that are the incorrect size, not supportive enough in the heel counter, or heeled can cause both foot deformations, and kinematic chain issues higher up in the knee or spine.
- Hobbies, creative time, getting outdoors, keeping out of mischief, keeping active. Children often learn a lot from play- from role play to creative imagination to learning to share with others. Finland’s children don’t start school till 7 years old when they have used play and fun in nursery. They have consistently one of the top performing academic grades of all of the developed world. This is despite Finnish kids spending less hours at school. Some of these reasons are that Finnish parents spend time reading to their children and culturally invest energy into teaching the kids at home and not relying on teachers. Using myself as an example, we grew up having so many hobbies. So much so, that every afternoon after school it would be swim club, or music lesson, or brownies/scouts, or choir practice. There was not enough time to get into mischief or trouble, instead we had a healthy outlet for our pent up energies and hormones.
- Shoes and backpacks.
- Less screen time. Evidence is emerging regarding overuse of screen time in children has a direct correlation with behaviour. We often use the iPads and iPhones, mobile phones, and tablet computers as ‘baby sitters’ whilst we have a lovely relaxing meal out with the family or quiet car journey. In fact most medical groups would strongly recommend reducing the amount of time children spend watching and using media. Read my blog here about tips and advice on how to use hand-held devices safely. Why not limit your child’s time in front of non school work to say 1-2 hours a day. One of my friends switches the wifi off till the kids have done their school work and chores, and gives them wifi access as a treat for completing it all. Keep computer controllers in your care, to be given to the child when they’ve done something good. Interestingly, my brother and I both grew up without computers or computer consoles or TVs in our rooms, and we are both avid readers (we also had very limited access to the family computer and tv-purposefully).
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