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Montrose County Health & Human Services - Health Education

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Aug 27

A Healthy Start for the 2015-2016 School Year

Posted on August 27, 2015 at 4:07 PM by Joanna Cortes


Teachers, students, and parents alike have been gearing up for the start of the new school year and it is finally here. Even for folks who don’t have children or theirs have already left the home, this transition is felt throughout the county - it symbolizes that summer and vacation season is coming to an end, with the fall season on its way. It is a bustling time of year in our community. 

Here are tips and reminders for parents and caregivers during these busy first weeks so that everyone can start the new school year off on the right foot. 

Create stability.
Set alarm clocks (have older kiddos get in the habit of setting their own) and try to stick to consistent bedtimes – this way, bedtime and mornings become routine and more manageable.  With your children, designate a spot for backpacks, lunchboxes, and whatever is needed for the day in order to minimize last-minute running around or forgetting things as you run out the door. Create a space for homework, along with consistent times for it to be utilized. It can be challenging to land on one consistent time each day as schedules can vary, but it gets easier once school is in full swing and schedules are mor predictable. 

Reinforce good sleeping habits.21-43-39-903_640

Getting plenty of rest is vital to ensuring that students feel alert and can stay focused while at school. When well-rested, they can better absorb new information and truly learn. Sleep is also extremely important for preventing depression and other mental health issues. Establishing a reasonable bedtime routine for your children is not only healthy; it also sends them the message that sleep is important. 

While this may be easier said than done, don’t forget that parents and caregivers need plenty of rest too! Below are the recommended amounts of sleep for different age groups. 

For more detailed information on sleep, here are some additional resources:

Communicate and be accessible.
It never hurts to remind your kids that they can come to you with any questions, concerns, or frustrations about school. It is also healthy to books-20167_640encourage them to share their positive school experiences with you as well – from acing a big test to simply making it to class on time, it is good for kids to know that they can celebrate these accomplishments within their support systems. The American Psychological Association offers great communication tips for parents.

Encourage healthy eating and exercise.

Food choices affect mood, ability to concentrate and energy level – all key in a youth’s academic success, and overall well-being. Providing healthy foods is important for your child’s mental and physical health. Serve a variety of foods, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Provide water and tea as drink options instead of soda or other beverages that are high in sugar.  

Did you know?
Your children’s school may have a school garden! To find out, contact their school or simply check out the
map of community and school gardens in Montrose and Olathe, provided by Valley Food Partnership

The same goes for physical activity - in addition to the physical benefits, exercise is great for mental wellness and has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety. Regular physical activity can help your child concentrate, sleep, and feel better in general. See this
fact sheet for Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Adolescents as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Support mental wellness.
A key aspect of academic success and an overall healthy and happy life is mental wellness. This ranges from coping and being able to navigate difficult situations to overall resiliency. The following resources from the National Association of School Psychologists feature more detailed information:

Help promote positive and safe school environments.board-597190_640

Last week, bullying expert Barbara Coloroso came to Montrose and hosted workshops for the school district and community on teaching youth to act with integrity, civility, and compassion.  If you missed this workshop, check out the
Ethics Handout that is available on her website to become familiar with some of these concepts. 

One last reminder!
Don’t forget that all students need to be up to date on their immunizations! See below for the 2015 vaccination guidelines as well as the Certificate of Immunization form from the state of Colorado.


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