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Pediatrics specialist: How to keep kids healthy at school

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Suzanne Grannan, a pediatrics specialist, will be a guest on Thursday night’s “Education Spotlight” on WISH-TV.

The half-hour special airs starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The special will be available after airing on WISHTV.com and the WISH-TV YouTube page.

The pediatrics specialist works with Community Health Network’s Geist Family Medicine. In advance of Thursday’s airing, she shared some tips on how to keep kids health at school.

Stay up-to-date on immunizations

Getting routine childhood vaccines — including the flu and COVID-19 shots — is one of the best things anyone can do to protect children against the spread of infectious diseases. The pandemic has caused a significant drop in the number of children who received their vaccines on time, so vaccinations have become even more important.

Wash hands frequently

Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of illness in classrooms and elsewhere. If hand washing is not possible, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is the next best way to kill germs that cause illnesses and viruses, including COVID-19.

Get adequate sleep

Making sure that children get enough sleep is a crucial part of keeping them healthy. To start, establish a consistent bedtime routine, including turning off screens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children in kindergarten through Grade 6 should get from 9-12 hours of sleep at night, and those in grades 7 through 12 should get from 8-10 hours.

Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, obesity, temper tantrums, depression, and injuries.

Not only is sleep an important factor in children’s physical and emotional health, it can also play a role in how well they do in school.

Practice health eating habits; stay hydrated

Healthy eating begins with a good breakfast that includes protein, dairy, whole grains or a combination of the three. Healthy eating improves children’s ability to focus and concentrate throughout the day. Also important are a nutritious lunch, healthy after school snacks, and a family dinner time.

Staying hydrated has numerous benefits. It can help prevent fatigue, improve mood, aid in digestion and weight management, and improve brain function. Promote healthy drink choices including water and milk, and avoid sugar-filled drinks. Beverages such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, juices and coffees are often packed with sugar, caffeine and other unwanted ingredients that can have negative impacts on health.

Exercise daily

Getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day will help children sleep better and is associated with fewer infections, improved behavior and ability to manage stress, and better performance at school.

Manage stress, anxiety

Homework, tests, sports, and social pressures can be sources of stress and anxiety for children.

Research shows that stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on kids’ health, just as it can on the health of adults.

Parents need to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of stress, and need to help find ways to manage children’s anxiety. Monitor children’s social media use closely and keep an open line of communication to identify and address any issues.