EXTENSION SERVICE: Study Healthy Back-to-School Habits – The Madison Record

By Justin Miller

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Grab the backpacks and notebooks, school will be back in session soon. While it’s important for kids to have the school supplies they need, it’s just as important to make sure their bodies are ready to tackle the school year. To start the year off right, parents need to make sure their children’s physical activity, eating habits, sleep patterns, and many other habits are setting them up for success.

Helen Jones, regional human sciences agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said proper nutrition is essential for children to be successful in school.

“Nutrition is one of the single most important factors when it comes to a child’s development,” Jones said. “A healthy, well-balanced diet can help children and adults think clearly and feel more alert. It can also improve concentration and attention span.”

To make this job a little easier, Alabama Extension’s Health, Diet and Human Nutrition team has created a repository of tips and tricks related to nutrition and health. This back-to-school series includes educational posts ranging from healthy snack options to creating stress-free routines. Topic areas of the publication include the following:

  • Back to school: breakfast, an important meal for school-age children
  • Smart snack: fuel for school
  • Back to school: routines without stress
  • Back to school: advice for children with diabetes
  • Physical activity and the school-age child
  • Back to school: the 411 on sleep quality
  • Back to School: Four Steps to a Nutritious, Stress-Free Lunch

Jones said these posts aren’t just for parents. Teachers can also use these resources to help create a healthier classroom environment.

“These suggestions can help teachers incorporate physical activity breaks into the classroom to help keep students on task and on good behavior. Also, they can help with party planning in the classroom if food is served,” said Jones. “Teachers can also send these healthy tips home with students to encourage parents to incorporate items like fruits, vegetables, or whole-grain snacks at home.”

Incorporating these healthy habits now will not only help children succeed in school, but will also set them up for future success.

Tera Glenn, regional human sciences agent for Alabama Extension, said establishing healthy behaviors is essential for both parents and students because it helps establish patterns that will stay with a child for life.

“Healthy habits help give kids the tools they need to prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer,” said Glenn. “Healthy snacks and meals from a variety of foods will help provide children with the essential nutrients and vitamins they need to grow and learn.”

The Back to School series of publications is available in the Home and Family section of the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu. While you’re there, stop by and check out the other great resources Extension has to offer.

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