Dubai Health Authority discusses back-to-school health tips.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 30, 2018: School premises will be filled with the chatter of children and as the gates open to welcome kids’ back-to-school, there are a few tips that can make the transition from holidays to academic life easier.
The DHA’s dedicated school health department recommends that parents should allow children to settle into their new routines over a period of two weeks.
Set bedtimes, even on weekends:
“The first thing to focus on is sleep patterns as that affects the child’s attention span and ability to function through the day,” says Dr Badreyya Al Ehremi, Director of Public Health at the DHA. “School children need nine to eleven hours of sleep depending on their age. Once school starts, it is very important to follow the same sleep pattern through the weekend, at least for the first month and later on its best to keep weekend sleep patterns as close to the normal bedtime routine.
“Parents should also avoid giving their children sugary foods such as chocolates or desserts four hours prior to bedtime. They should keep external stimulants at bay such as electronic devices and television. Artificial blue light [the type that laptops, tablets and mobile phones emit] affects the ability to fall asleep as it confuses the body’s circadian clock and confuses the brain into thinking its daytime. It is best to ensure children do not have access to these devices two hours prior to bedtime.”
Dr Al Ehremi adds that research points out those children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. They do better in school, and have better concentration and more energy.
While that is the ideal situation, fussy-eaters and rushed mornings, come in the way. “Planning the night before will go a long way to ensure a stress-free morning. This will also ensure parents have more time to make sure their children eat breakfast before going to school. Some children do not like a heavy meal first thing in the morning, even a fruit will do and slowly you can add more on the breakfast table once the child gets into routine,” says Dr Elhremi.
Lunch Box Safety:
In terms of lunch box safety, she says, “Parents should also use frozen icepacks while sending perishable food items, especially meat, so that food does not get spoilt. For young children, parents also need to be cautious of choking hazards and pack food accordingly.”
Another concern for parents at the start of school is children falling sick.
Dr Hamed Yahyah Hussein, Deputy Head of Schools and Educational Institutions Health Department at DHA’s Public Health Directorate says, “Parents need to ensure they do not send their sick kids to school. Not only, is it detrimental to their child’s recovery but also it can lead to passing on the infection to others. In a school environment, infection spread rapidly, so parents need to be considerate about other schoolchildren.
“The most common contagious infections we find in a school environment are common cold, influenza, diarrhea, upper respiratory infections, chickenpox and measles. Reducing the spread of infection among school children is also the responsibility of every parent and therefore they must refrain from sending their sick children for a certain number of days as recommended by their healthcare provider.”
Schools and parents should also ensure that children wash their hands before mealtimes, as hand-hygiene is one of the most important ways of preventing the spread of germs. Dr Hussein says, “ For small children, parents can teach them the ABC song or Happy Birthday song to make sure they’ve spent enough time on this important task.”
He adds that parents must ensure children are up-to-date with their children’s vaccination schedule.
Other health tips include ensuring the child’s school bag is not heavy to prevent postural problems and scheduling regular dental and eye check-ups.
Dr Yahyah says that there are always mixed emotions when parents send their children back-to-school but a bit of planning and routine makes the journey enjoyable.
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