If you’re a bit apprehensive about sending the kids out into the world when they return to school, you are not alone – it’s a natural response. As we have come together to reduce the effects of COVID-19, our schools are ready to welcome back students in the safest way possible.
Of course, it never hurts to give a boost to your child’s general immunity to help reduce the number of viruses and illnesses that they may pick up or reduce the severity of symptoms. So here’s some tips on how to get the kids fighting fit for back to school.
Hand washing and hygiene
You have heard this over and over again but one of the most important things that a child can do to protect themselves from illness is to wash their hands. Remind kids to use soap and warm running water, rub vigorously for at least 20 seconds ensuring they fully cover their hands and fingernails, rinse, then dry thoroughly using a clean towel. Kids should be washing their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, after playing with a pet or animal, after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose, and after touching something potentially contaminated (e.g. chewed pencils, used tissue, etc.).
Going back to school may be a bit of a drag for kids, but they also need to keep up their usual hygiene practices of regular bathing/showers, teeth cleaning, and laundering clothes.
Gut bacteria plays a vital role in supporting the immune system. When gut bacteria becomes imbalanced, a person’s ability to fight off infections is altered and they may experience an increase in colds and flu. Probiotics are a supplement containing live bacteria. When taken, they can boost your friendly gut bacteria. Probiotics can often be found in some fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese (check the product labels).
Rest and relax
A good night’s sleep does amazing things for the immune system, as being run-down leaves you more susceptible to illness. If the bedtime routine has slipped a little (or a lot!), now’s a good time to get things back on track. Remember to allow kids some “down time” too, away from school work, sports, and intensive activities.
What goes into our bodies has a big influence on our health. Cram plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into those lunch boxes and family meals. Cook with herbs and spices plus garlic, onion, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and black peppercorns for an immunity boost. And remember, keep them hydrated – water is the best choice.
Sun and fun
A deficiency in vitamin D can result in an increased susceptibility to infection. Sunny days in the winter may not be as frequent so make the most of opportunities to enjoy that sunshine.
Stress can make us vulnerable to illness and disease too, so take up some opportunities for the family to unwind and share some laughs with a fun activity, ie, family walk, backyard game of soccer, scavenger hunt, bike ride, etc.
Check with your doctor or health professional that your child is up to date with their required vaccinations including the annual flu jab.
If your child is sick, keep them at home
Any runny nose, sore throat, or fever needs to be referred to your doctor for testing. The likelihood of your child contracting COVID-19 is small but we must all work together to keep it that way. If your child is sick, notify the school, keep them at home, and contact your health professional.
Written by Julie Scanlon
Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire.
Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”