Here are our top tips on how to help kids have a smooth back to school transition.
1. RATION SUGAR
Everyone relaxes rules during holidays and so it’s likely that kids will have been eating more sugar, such as fizzy drinks, lollies, ice creams etc, during their summer break. But sugar is a stimulant, especially for young children. Over half of children with ADHD crave sweets and about 70% of these have much more control over their behaviour when their food is low in added sugar.
For calmer kids with better concentration for the start of term, start reducing their sugar intake 2 weeks before term starts. Begin gradually but by week two try and cut down on 50% of their sugar intake. Swap fizzy drinks for watered down natural juices, swap sugar coated breakfast cereals for non sugared ones and add just a little of your own sugar. Cut down on processed foods like pizzas and nuggets etc, offer bread with honey or jam on instead of processed biscuits or cookies as sweet snacks.
Cut out lollies and ice creams and offer low sugar yoghurts instead. Children can also benefit greatly from omega 3 supplements for better concentration. The connection between omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and ADHD has been confirmed by studies in which youngsters with ADHD, when compared with non-ADHD children had much lower blood levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid.
2. SOOTHE SENSITIVE SKIN
Skin can become very dry during the summer and if a child is prone to eczema at all, the back to school period can be the worst time as it’s the combination of dryer skin from summer holidays, new itchy school uniforms and the stress of new classes or schools or looming exams that can all trigger eczema outbreaks.
Start bathing children thoroughly every evening before bed 2 weeks before school starts. A quick shower is not enough either a longer shower or soak in a warm bath is preferable. Try and keep young skin out of swimming pools for the last week to avoid additional dryness from chlorine. After evening bathing, moisturise skin while still damp to lock in moisture. At the same time, after bathing, either begin putting dry skin treatments on any patches of dry skin or skin usually prone to itching and redness as a preventative action to minimise skin outbreaks or at least have a remedy at the ready for the first signs of an outbreak.
Try Skin Shop’s Defensil Dry Skin Rescue Serum
, which dispenses of dryness and soothes itching and brings down redness naturally, which means it can be used daily without side effects and is suitable for daily use on children.
3. STRATEGIC SLEEP
Sleep routines are often disturbed during summer holidays due to travel, the absence of normal working hours for parents and the relaxing of normal term-time bedtime rules for kids. But changes in sleep patterns for children can be very disruptive and kids feel the effects of ‘jet lag’ or sleep lag more than adults.
For alert kids begin to ease back into normal term-time sleep routines 1 week before school begins. Ease bedtime back each day by 10-15 minutes and set alarm for morning get ups gradually earlier and earlier. Keep this up until ending up at 2-3 days of a routine which is the same times as normal term-time term sleep routines. Teenagers always think they can handle their own sleep patterns but in fact lack of sleep or changing sleep patterns can effect teenagers more than younger children, so it’s as important to get teens to participate in reducing their sleep lag for the new term as it is for younger kids.
4. CONQUER COLD SORES
Half the population, including children, carries the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, and the back to school period is a time when the likelihood of picking up the virus is high. Back to school colds and flu, lowered immunity, stress and close personal proximity to other students can all increase risk of cold sore outbreaks. A cold sore sufferer is only infectious when a cold sore is actually present on their lips.
Avoid sharing drinks, food, lipsticks or lip glosses or pencils or pens with other students.
As a preventative solution try Skin Shop’s Liquorice Balm
, a natural daily lip balm that contains a pure extract of liquorice which has been shown in a trial by the Herpes Virus Association to help prevent cold sore break outs and can be used daily by children.
5. BEAT BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES
It’s not just adults who suffer from the blues, children and especially teens do too. Almost two months spent outdoors in the open air and bright light during summer holidays changes moods and lifts spirits due to higher intakes of vitamin D from the sun and the increase in physical activity producing more mood heightening endorphins. A sudden return to indoor time, shortening of daylight hours and sedentary desk work combined with anxiety about new school, classes and exams can make children feel temporarily down or sad on returning back to school.
Try to avoid as much indoor time outside of school hours as possible. For the first 2-3 weeks of school try walking to or from school if it is close enough instead of driving, avoid TV or computer time while it is still light after school. Encourage children to do at least half an hour of outdoor activity after school, even if its jut kicking a football around the garden or waking to the shops to get a treat.
Sign them up for active after-school activities if they are available. Encourage friends to come round and play after school to encourage kids to get outside or engage in imaginative play, preferably in a light or outdoor area. Try and get involved in homework assignments that might offer opportunities to go outside such as studying wildlife, drawing landscapes, looking at geographical features or even collecting stones or sticks as maths counting aides.
6. STAY AHEAD OF HEADLICE
Once children are back at school there is much greater risk of them picking up head lice. Being crammed in a classroom with lots of other children, close contact in games and sport and the fact that lice are very infectious, means your child is likely to pick up head lice during the back to school period.
Check your child’s hair regularly, if you find they do have head lice you will need to check your whole family so they don’t re-infect each other. At school always keep long hair tied back to avoid contact.
The best treatments are over the counter lotions, which can be picked up at your local pharmacy. Once you have treated the hair regularly rub conditioner into wet hair and carefully comb through, making sure you wipe the comb with a paper towel in between each stroke so not to put any lice back in the hair.
Alternative treatments which some people find effective, included Rosemary, Lavender and Tea Tree oil. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that using conditioner regularly on kids hair also helps prevent lice as the lice find it harder to grip on to glossier hair.
7. CATCH OUT COLDS
The autumn back to school months are the start of the winter cold season. Children average 3 to 8 colds per year and most of them occur during the autumn term.
Wash hands: Children and adults should wash hands at key moments — after nose-wiping, after diapering or toileting, before eating, and before food preparation. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics as they kill all good bacteria in the body that helps fight common. Eat natural live yogurt as the beneficial bacteria in some active yogurt cultures can help prevent colds. The whole family can benefit from taking zinc supplements recent research has confirmed that supplementation with zinc can shortens the duration of a normal cold by up to four days.
8. AVOID VERRUCAS
Some activities children participate in at school involve being bare foot, sports, swimming and communal showers – these all increase the risk of spreading and catching verrucas.
Try to keep feet as dry as possible as the virus can spread through wet soggy skin, and where possible encourage children to keep their shoes on. Garlic can be used to effectively treat verrucas, it does this by irritating the skin just enough to cause the offending virus to be attacked and destroyed by the body’s immune system.Garlic can be used either in oil form or fresh cloves.
Garlic oil contains virus fighting ingredient that helps with healing, it should be applied to a compress and left on the skin over night. If using fresh garlic you need to crush a clove, apply this to the verruca and tape in place leave for 24 hours and the verruca should blister and fall off.
9. GIVE THE BOOT TO TUMMY BUGS
The average under five suffers from 3-4 tummy bugs a year and most of them are caught at school.
The best defence against tummy bugs are frequent hand-washing. Teach kids to soap up regularly — especially after potty. Tell them not to share food, drinks, or utensils. If a family member is ill, wash his soiled clothing and linens at once, and disinfect contaminated surfaces with chlorine bleach.
In addition a recent study suggests that cranberry juice may work against gastrointestinal viruses because substances in the juice help prevent the adhesion of certain bacteria to the stomach wall.
10. WORM OUT THE PROBLEM!
Thread worms are a very common problem during the back to school period due to close proximity to other kids and school meals. Worms can make kids feel sluggish and tired as well as being uncomfortable and itchy.
Wash hands regularly, avoid processed meats like sausages, burgers and meat pies or pasties and do not share food with other children. If you see your child looking uncomfortable or trying scratch their bottom ask them what they feel and then check for worms. Most kids do not admit that their bottom’s itch due to embarrassment, so its up to parents to spot the signs and check for worms. If worms are found, the whole family should take over-the-counter worming treatment to prevent re-infection.
ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR SCHOOL
Most supermarket stock school uniform items with no logos which all school accept provided the school uniform’s colours are maintained. We found some of the best items (good value for money) at Sainsbury’s.
The stockist number is 0800 63 62 62 and their customers can find their nearest Sainsbury’s that stocks schoolwear.
Image credits: All children shown in the images included in this article are wearing Sainsbury’s BACK TU SCHOOL clothing range.
Clarks is London Mums first choice for school shoes for their durability, comfort and cool look. This year we have opted for a smarter look by selecting the Ashcroft model
, although the 2011 is still a great choice of shoes as you can check in our previous review http://londonmumsmagazine.com/2011/school-shoes-london-mums-recommendation
For sporty activities our favourite choice is New Balance Navy Velcro Running Shoes
: they are as comfy as slippers, and also very stylish to please the trendiest kids in town. They are available from www.alexandalexa.com
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