Keeping the kiddos healthy when heading back to school is one of the most difficult tasks many parents face. Today I want to give you a few tips on school wellness and how to keep your students healthy when returning to school.
Why is school wellness so difficult to maintain? Why are we normally so much healthier in the summer? What changes? Most of us are very social even in the summer; kids attend summer camps, swimming, sports, theme parks, etc. So what makes going back to school so different? Why is school wellness a near impossibility?
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D3 or lack thereof:
Let’s talk sunshine first! Summer = SUNSHINE!! Sunshine = Vitamin D3! Once we head back indoors for the fall, we aren’t getting the sunshine we need to make vitamin D3, therefore, lowering our natural immunity. (Read more about the Importance of Vitamin D3 , how to dose it, toxicity, and why you need it, HERE) This is the biggest change in the fall/winter and will completely deplete the immune system. It is a good explanation about why there are more illnesses in the winter.
Recent years have brought flu outbreaks in the summer! Some studies have shown that the reason for this is spending too much time indoors or outside with sunscreen, in turn, wreaking havoc on our vitamin D levels and thus our immune systems. Uncovered skin, exposed to full sunlight makes vitamin D; even sunscreen will block this process.
For maximum, natural vitamin D production, you should spend 20 or 30 minutes a day in the sun, during summer months, with exposed skin and no sunscreen. Lighter skinned people make D faster; so they will need less exposure to direct sunlight. Do NOT burn yourselves.
So my first go to and old standby for keeping my kiddos well during the school year: D3 supplementation. We always start our supplementation, as we start back to school and continue until school ends in May. We take less in the fall, because we are still outside quite a bit homeschooling and farming , but in the winter, we take our max dose of 35ius per pound of body weight. The D3 post mentioned above has full dosing details.
This is my favorite Vitamin D3 supplement. I buy the 5,000 ius and just dose the kids based on their weekly max. For example my 30lb toddler should have 35ius x 30lbs per day, that = 1,050 ius per day, so I give him ONE, 5,000 ius capsule once per week. 🙂 This way I don’t have to remember everyday and I am saving money by having everyone taking from the same bulk bottle.
Another, even better source of D, comes from Fermented Cod Liver Oil. However, many don’t like the taste. Also, choose carefully where you get it due to mercury contamination. I have no suggestions for this and would recommend you to research it thoroughly before going this route.
You heard me right, we are over sanitizing ourselves. Look at any back to school list, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. During the summer months we play outside, we get dirty, we drink pool and lake water, we eat a sandwich on a picnic with dirt on our hands, we go barefoot, we GET DIRTY!!! Getting dirty helps build natural immunity.
Think of it like a mini-vaccine, you get a little exposure from the dirt, pool, lake, etc, your body has a mild reaction and you build immunity, SLOWLY! NATURALLY! Then we head back to school and everything is kept as sterile as possible (for good reason in those closed up classrooms) then, when you are finally exposed to a germ or, as it is in a school setting a BUNCH of germs; BOOM! Immune system overload!!
What can you do? Encourage your teachers to use soap and water for hand washing instead of using hand sanitizer all the time. Encourage them to open the windows (school policy may dictate this), encourage them to take the class on walks outside to get their sunshine, get them to do anything that builds the immune system and encourages a bit of germ exposure.
American diets are lacking. Processed foods, chemicals, nutrient depleted foods, quick grabs, sugar, sugar, sugar. These all stress the immune system and make us sick.
Of course on a busy back to school schedule, with sports, work and homework; cooking a full, healthy, real food meal every night just isn’t always an option. So what are parents to do?
1st ELIMINATE sugar. Read every label, it is surprising where sugar hides.
Plan ahead, NOW! Search out real food recipe ideas, look for quick, wholesome recipes and write them in your planner or calendar. Make a shopping list and get it all in one trip. I usually plan 30 meals, and buy at least 2 weeks worth of groceries at one time.
Tomorrow there will be a new 30 minute recipe posted and it will include links to MANY other 30 minute, back-to-school, recipes.
MAKE SHOPPING EASY:
I HATE to shop. Take advantage of online shopping, click and pull grocery stores, and meal plans with shopping lists that are found all over the internet.
You can check out our quick meals at : The Crunchy Trail Recipes Page
For a list of reasons you want to keep those meals as healthy as possible go to : HIKE FOR HEALTH
You can also check out our: 14 Day Meal Plan for a quick and easy 2 week meal plan and shopping list.
HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCH:
School lunches are often lacking. Don’t let your children eat those. They are often over processed and way too high in sugar and carbs.
Kids often love leftovers of their favorite meals. Why not make a little extra the night before? Then you can avoid white bread sandwiches, sugary jelly, and all with NO extra work.
When my kids were in public school they loved using these . (click the image to be taken to Amazon) They have a built-in spoon and keep their leftovers warm for up to 12 hours. My kids still had a hot lunch, I didn’t have to make an extra meal, and it was food I knew was healthy. It took the planning out of school lunches.
Each morning we would heat the leftovers and put them in the thermos, they would then pack grapes, apples, bananas, carrot sticks, cheese sticks etc. to have as sides. This made making sure they had a hot and healthy lunch simple.
QUICK LUNCH IDEAS :
- Sandwiches on Ezekiel Bread with nitrate & nitrite free lunch meats; most grocery stores have a great choice, like Oscar Mayer Naturals.
- Homemade lunchables with multi-grain crackers, nitrate free lunch meet, cheese, and fruit.
- Greek yogurt, granola, cheese and fruit.
- Nuts, fruits, and cheese
- Fresh veggies, natural peanut butter or other nut butters (CHECK YOUR SCHOOL POLICY FOR ALLERGY ALERTS), or homemade ranch dressing (I’ll post the recipe for that soon, it is so easy)
These are just a few, play around, involve the kids, and make it fun to eat healthy. It will do a world of good for their health. You don’t have to do everything at once Mama, don’t overwhelm yourself, every healthy meal is one less sick meal. 😉
Also, if they are eating school lunch, I suggest a good, age appropriate Children’s Probiotic, D3, and an age appropriate raw multivitamin. Especially if you have picky eaters or children with food aversions. Make sure your probiotic is the type you keep in the fridge for best quality.
NOTE: check your family’s MTHFR status before adding a multivitamin with folic acid. You will want one with folate instead if you are MTHFR positive. (both of those are links to more information on MTHFR) Those with MTHFR do NOT process normal vitamins right and may do more harm than good with those regular multivitamins.
Be sure they are getting plenty of green leafy veggies, nuts, fruits, etc. The more natural vitamins they intake the more healthy they will be. Smoothies are a GREAT way to hide the green leafy stuff and appease the pick eaters.
LACK OF EXERCISE:
When school starts back exercise slows. Sitting still hours a day and concentrating is stressful, release of the stress hormones lowers immunity. (See my posts on STRESS here). They may not seem stressed, but that doesn’t mean their bodies aren’t under stress. With all the pressure on teachers and students these days, outside time and PE time are very limited. Make sure your kids are outside running, jumping, playing, climbing, walking, cycling, SOMETHING for at least 1 hour after school.
Therefore, turn off the TVs and electronics (there is more on that in my stress post) and get them MOVING. Moving and exercising (even if it is just natural play) boosts the immune system and helps keep the germs at bay. See my post on MOVING here.
IMMUNE SYSTEM OVERLOAD:
School physical and back to school vaccines are a must for many parents. This is a personal decision for each family and not something I will blog about. Many have vaccine injuries, others have horror stories of vaccine preventable diseases, this is a discussion for you and your doctor.
However, if you know your child will need their vaccines or boosters before school starts, then PLEASE space them out and do them during the summer when their systems aren’t under as much stress. How can the body use the vaccine properly if it is stressed by other sources and bombarded with other germs?
HEALING & DETOX:
After vaccines, give them time to recoup, a vaccine is a small dose of a disease or several diseases, meant to cause an antibody response, if their body is busy using energy on making antibodies it can NOT properly fight off everything else they are exposed to at school.
PLAN AHEAD!! SCHEDULE AHEAD!! Get their shots early in the summer!
Also, do what you can to detox from the additives and preservatives, add immune boosting herbs and supplements to help their immune system function properly after the shots, and keep them resting for a few days.
Furthermore, you can also use this detox after exposure to germs or at the onset of illnesses to help the healing process.
I highly recommend this book, for those who do vaccinate,
it provides great information on vaccines and spacing them out to protect the immune system. Staying well is all about having a healthy and functional immune system.
LACK OF SLEEP:
I touch on this in every wellness post, I am aware of my redundancy. However, your body heals when it is at rest, so SLEEP. This is especially true in middle school and high school aged kiddos. Make sure they are getting their sleep, let their bodies fight off those germs. At night put the phones in the kitchen or living room to charge, take away or turn off the tvs, and SHUT DOWN! My Stress Post has a long list of the benefits of good sleep. You are the parent, MAKE THEM go to BED!!! They will be healthier in the long run.
OILS FOR SLEEP & ILLNESS:
Because, many don’t rest well at night, we choose to diffuse oils at night, we diffuse Frankincense, Cedarwood & Germ Fighter to help bring rest and wellness. For more information on oils go HERE: Herbs & Oils for Natural Stress Relief
WHEN THEY ARE SICK: REST MORE!!
On this note, when and if they do get sick. KEEP THEM HOME!!! They need rest to heal, even if they are “only” sitting in a class all day, they are stressing the body and using valuable energy.
If the school has a strict attendance policy; get a doctor’s note! Do whatever you have to do but do NOT send them to school when they are feeling sick. Staying home the first couple of days of an illness will shorten the length of the illness by allowing the body to fight while it is still strong.
When they are home MAKE THEM REST! No games, no running, etc. If you are sick enough to be home, you are sick enough to stay in bed. It’s what you need. A movie and a bowl of chicken soup; made from scratch with chicken that has bones, will work wonders on a cold. Or, use a beef soup made with beef bones. Bone broth is such a healing soup.
Do not treat fevers unless there is a history of febrile seizure or unless it goes above 103. A fever makes us rest AND it kills the germs. Yes it is miserable, but it serves a purpose. Germs cannot tolerate temperature fluctuations for more than a few degrees, so let that fever go!!
For the love of all things holy, do NOT take part in sports when they are sick. Don’t make them push through, don’t let them push through. They are only spreading germs and lowering their immune system. STOP THE MADNESS!!
- Get your D3
- Eat Right
- Protect the immune system
These are just a few tips for staying healthy during the school year. When my kids were in public school, and we started to carry out these strategies, we found they were very rarely ill, however, when they were they healed fully and quickly with no doctor intervention. Sure we visited our pediatrician for diagnoses and school notes, but we never needed meds or prolonged absences.
Think back a few generations to Mamaw and her kids, they had fresh chicken soup, in the bed, under the covers, sleeping. No school, no playing, nothing, just rest and good food.
PLEASE: Share your tips for staying healthy during the school year with me in the comments. I love to hear what other Mamas are doing to keep the kiddos healthy.
Back To School Encouragement and Resources from the Simply Bloggers Crew:
Here are some great posts from my friends. This post is part of our monthly blog hop. Please show them as much love as you show me. These are great gals and awesome friends.
Allie is sharing some delicious, time-saving recipes.
Stephanie tells us how to deal with a common back to school problem.
Melissa is sharing about routines that make back to school easier.
Jess gives us some .
Aurie is sharing about starting back to school with foster children.