By the end of August parents have sent the kids back to school and reclaimed the house and their sanity. And without fail, come September the kids are back—this time sick with the flu. The back-to-school flu seems to occur every year like clockwork. As much as parents love to have their kids around, I think it’s fair to say that parents would prefer the kiddos to be healthy and in school. So how do we prevent the flu from attacking our children and invading our homes?
The single, best way to prevent the flu is to have your children vaccinated. The CDC recommends that all children 6 months and older get flu vaccinations. Getting all of your children vaccinated–in addition to other family members and caregivers–can also protect those younger than 6 months. This is especially important for children with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems because the flu can lead to other problems in these children.
Hygiene is Key
Good hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread and contraction of the flu virus. Amid the back to school frenzy of purchasing pencils and notebooks, it’s important to make some time to teach your children proper hygiene. Show your kids how to wash their hands and stress that they do this before and after each meal and after using the restroom. Parents should also remind children to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or even with just a shirt sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
And while we usually encourage the sharing of toys and books, the sharing of drinks, food, lip balm, hair brushes and such is off limits.
School Supplies To Consider
Create a “Back to School Survival Kit” to make sure your children have everything they need to practice good hygiene and to stay healthy. Many of the items are inexpensive and can even be found in small sizes in the dollar or travel section of your local supermarket.
1. Hand sanitizer-look for alcohol free versions for kids in case of accidental ingestion
2. Lip balm
3. Travel pack of tissues
4. Disposable wipes for messy hands or for wiping down a desktop
5. Mini hair brush or comb (and bobby pins and hair ties for the little ladies)
6. Small container of band-aids
7. Reusable water bottle
8. Granola bar or other small snack
9. Emergency contact information
Hit the Hay and Eat Up
Start getting kids adjusted to their school bedtime schedule during the last few weeks of summer. Children need adequate sleep in order to keep their immune system functioning at a high level to prevent sickness. Creating a schedule that allows kids to wind down in the evening and then get the minimum eight hours of sleep is integral to staying healthy and performing well in school. And when the kids wake-up from their shut eye, make sure they get a good breakfast. Studies have shown that a healthy breakfast plays a large role in children’s attention span and performance at school. Some schools now have breakfast available for students, but nothing can replace a balanced breakfast at home.
Other back to school health regimens to follow:
• Get a complete eye exam before heading back to school. Many children who struggle in school actually have undiagnosed vision problems.
• Get your annual physical or check-up before school starts and verify that your children’s shots are up-to-date. Many schools won’t accept children without a current physical and vaccinations.
• Don’t blow off all the pesky forms. The forms are required for a reason, so take your time and fill them all out. Keeping the school nurse and secretary in-the-know on your child’s allergies and medication needs could be lifesaving. Make sure your emergency contact information is up-to-date too.
For more information on getting your child in “back-to-school-shape”, talk to your doctor or health care provider.
About the Author
Guest author Maggie Voelker, is a content writer in Indianapolis for a discount socks provider, carrying everything from ankle socks to many styles of diabetic socks. She’s no stranger to back-to-school germs as she taught Spanish in a preschool prior to her work in Indianapolis.