WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — It’s that time of year again — kids nationwide are heading back to school, including children here in the DMV. Parents may be wondering: how can they keep their children healthy?
Dr. Yolandra Hancock, a pediatrician at Generational Health Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., had advice for parents and caregivers for their child’s return to school.
Dr. Hancock said one of the most important things to do is for children to get plenty of sleep. She said it helps to wake up their child earlier in the morning as it naturally lends itself to them going to sleep a little bit earlier.
“For Pre-K, they need between 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night. For school-aged children, they need between 10 to 12 hours. And for our adolescents, they need at least between 8 to 10 hours of sleep,” Dr. Hancock said.
Limiting screen time is also important as kids gear up for the first day of school. Dr. Hancock recommended no more than 2 hours of screen time with anything that has an on-off switch unless it’s school-related.
“Just give them enough time for their brains to be able to rest and engage in other activities, specifically when it comes to bedtime. Our recommendations are that you shut off any phone screen activity at least 2 hours before bedtime to give the brain enough time to shut down,” she said.
Dr. Hancock said the second thing is to keep the phone away from the bed.
“We know that when text alerts show up, when social media alerts show up, the light shows up on the phone, there may even be a ding set a standard do not disturb. Make sure that if you have to have the phone in the room with a child because that’s the alarm, turn the phone face down, turn the brightness down so that it does not pull them out of their deep, restful REM sleep that we all need to rest and restore,” Dr. Hancock said.
Dr. Hancock also said parents should be sure their child is drinking plenty of water during school. She also said your child’s mental health is critically important, too.
“How does your child feel going into the school year? Is there anxiety associated with it? Were there any school difficulties that you can partner with your provider in navigating your child through? Are there any issues related to things like bullying? I think it’s really important to create a system to be able to check in with your child. And the best way to do that is to partner with your health care provider in figuring all of that out,” Dr. Hancock said.