This school year means different routines for Central New York children, whether they’re learning from home, the classroom, or both. This has health experts offering suggestions on how to keep kids healthy. Peggy Thomas is president of the Syracuse Chapter of the American Heart Association and Director of Nursing at Upstate Community Hospital. She says social distancing and limits on gatherings mean less physical activity.
“We know that students aren’t going to get the same amount of potential gym time, or physical activity from sports that they historically would, which is a great outlet for them. So trying to build into your child’s routine: time outside, time to do exercises inside.” said Thomas.
As we know, the pandemic has shifted more of our learning and work routines to screens, which also tends to limit movement. Thomas says it’s important to find a balance.
“During the school time when kids are utilizing remote learning or zoom classroom, taking breaks in between that to get a break from the screen, stretch, exercise, walking, playing outside is very important. Even for adults who have change in the way that they’re doing their work. That’s why i think incorporating it into what the family does is a good way to get kids to go along with that.”
Thomas also urges parents to involve their children in meal planning for the week.
“Using dinner meals, leftovers, or portions of those meals for lunch the next day is a great way to plan ahead. Also, having healthy snacks in the fridge like fruits and vegetables which will be a lot easier for kids who are learning from home to be able to access than maybe while they were at school.” said Thomas.
Thomas says also having healthy sleep habits like sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting screen activity 30 minutes before bedtime are critical to promote learning, improve self-control, and reduce psychological strain. More information and tips can be found here.