Physical Activity

Physical activity is extremely important for maintaining our physical and mental health.  

It has been difficult to be active due to the pandemic and cancellation of sports teams and activities, but back-to-school means back to a daily routine. Physical activity is an essential part of anyone’s routine and should account for one hour of your day.

When it comes to exercise, activity levels can range from low – high intensity, so there’s an option for everyone no matter your age, abilities, shape, or size. For example:

  • Low-intensity activities = walking, yoga, swimming, light weights, casual cycling.
  • Moderate-intensity activities = brisk walking, hiking, rollerblading, dancing, tennis, badminton.
  • High-intensity activities = running, skipping, heavy weightlifting and sports such as soccer, basketball, football, hockey and skiing.

Physical activity keeps your learning skills sharp, strengthens your bones and muscles, and reduces the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Regularly moving your body also helps prevent physical health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer.

Resources


Sleeping

The pandemic may have thrown a wrench in our sleeping habits, but going back-to-school means it’s time to get back to a consistent sleep routine.  

A regular sleep schedule will help with success in the classroom, as lack of sleep can cause forgetfulness, difficulty in learning, low motivation and could directly impact their mental health. 

Check out these tips and tricks to get back on a healthy sleep cycle: 

  • Wake up and go to sleep at the same time: this allows our bodies to get used to it and eventually regulate itself to that schedule accordingly. 
  • Have a bedtime routine: shut down the electronics and get out the books, make sure teeth are brushed, clothes are picked out and lunches are packed before crawling into bed. 
  • Create a healthy sleeping space: make sure the bed is in a cool, dark, quiet room with no access to electronics or distractions that could keep us up at night. 

For additional information on how to create a healthy sleep routine for all ages, visit: Sleep: Benefits and recommended amounts (aboutkidshealth.ca) 

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is essential for our physical and mental development.  

In addition to enjoying a well-balanced diet, it’s important to create a healthy food environment and develop our food skills and eating habits.  

When it comes to back to school, a student’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all have a direct impact on their ability to learn and stay focused.  

Canada’s Food Guide makes it simple to put together a nutritious meal or snack.  

The key to a well-balanced meal is the proportion of each food group. Aim for 50 per cent of foods eaten in a single day/meal to be fruit and vegetables, 25 per cent should be whole grain foods and the last 25 per cent should be protein (more often plant-based).  

In addition to food proportions, the number of meals and snacks one consumes in a day is important. Students needs three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), plus one to three snacks.  

Healthy foods: 

  • Whole, fresh and unprocessed  
  • Sourced locally (when possible), to avoid pesticides 
  • Natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, dates) 

Foods to limit: 

  • Sugar and sugar substitutes (these contribute to tooth decay and have no nutritional value) 
  • Low-sodium foods (eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and risk of heart disease) 
  • Processed foods  

Offer your child water when they are thirsty. Avoid fruit juices and instead replace with actual fruit.  

In-school meals: 

  • Nut free: Remember that in-person learning requires a nut-free environment. If you or your child can eat nuts, make sure it’s done at home and not part of school lunches.
  • Garbage free: On top of encouraging healthy eating habits through meals, you can develop sustainable practices, such as packing lunches in re-usable containers and limiting the amount of plastic used.  

For additional resources on nutrition and healthy eating development, visit: 

Mental Health

Mental Health is more important for this back-to-school year than ever. We may experience stress and anxiety around returning to in-person learning post-pandemic for numerous reasons.  

Communication is key. Talk to your child and try to understand how they are feeling about going back to school. Whether it’s nerves regarding social settings, being away from home, or feeling insecure about their body (puberty), your children need to be able to approach you without fear of being criticized or dismissed.  

Being open and available for safe and healthy discussion then gives you a chance to respond to their concerns with actionable solutions to help ease their worries. It also allows you to highlight all the benefits of returning to in-school learning and end the conversation on a positive note.  

For more information, check out these fantastic resources to help maintain your children’s mental wellness:  

LGBTQ2+ Students

Going back to in-person learning can be stressful, especially for LGBTQ2+ students who can often feel unsafe in school.  

The 2021 Every Class in Every School Final Report on the Second National Climate Survey on Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Canadian Schools reports we are still a long way from eradicating discrimination against students’ personal identification and sexual orientation.  

To help, parents can continue to educate their children on the importance of inclusion, kindness and acceptance.  

The following resources can also help a child to know where to seek support if needed: 

Homework

“Homework” – no one likes to hear this word. Fortunately, appropriately building homework into your daily routine will make it seem less like a chore and more like a task we are motivated to complete.  

When scheduling homework time, keep the following in mind: 

  • After-school break: allow for time to relax and have a snack before diving into homework. 
  • Dedicated homework space: make sure there is a comfortable area free of interruptions. 
  • Provide help: let your child tackle their homework on their own, only assisting when needed. Help with homework doesn’t need to fall on the parents/guardians. Instead try study buddies, homework clubs or tutors.  

For more tips on creating a smooth, stress-free homework routine, visit: 10 Tips for Creating a Smooth, Stress-Free Homework Routine – Help! We’ve Got Kids (helpwevegotkids.com) 

Routine

Nothing keeps us organized like a routine. Consistency in day-to-day activities provides children with a sense of security and helps everyone maintain order within the household.  

A routine is increasingly important when children and youth are in school. Creating and maintaining a daily routine for back-to-school will help us with time management (getting to and from school on time, completing homework assignments, participating in extracurricular activities, etc.) and build our independence.

One way to establish your routine is to maintain a monthly calendar that’s displayed in a shared room of the household. This ensures the entire facamily knows where each of them needs to be and when.  

Things to include in your daily routine: 

  • Wake up and breakfast
  • School start and end times 
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Assignment due dates 
  • Dinner time 
  • Homework hour
  • Preparation for tomorrow’s school day (if you have younger kids, help them pick out their clothes, pack their lunch and assemble their backpack for a smooth morning the following day) 
  • Bedtime 

A routine will help with everyone’s stress levels and make managing life all that much easier. With that said, practice some flexibility. It’s important for us to learn to go with the flow when life throws its unexpected curveballs.  


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