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EXTENSION SERVICE: Study up on healthy back-to-school habits

By Justin Miller

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Grab the book bags and notebooks, school will soon be back in session. While it is important that children have the school supplies they need, it is equally important to make sure that their bodies are ready to tackle the school year. To start the year off right, parents should make sure their child’s physical activity, eating habits, sleeping patterns and a host of other habits are setting them up for success.

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

“Nutrition is one of the single most important factors when it come 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.”

Extension is Here to Help

To make this job a little easier, Alabama Extension’s human nutrition, diet and health team has created a reservoir of tips and tricks related to nutrition and health. This back-to-school series includes educational publications range from healthy snacking options, to creating stress-free routines. Publication topic areas include the following:

  • Back to School – Breakfast an Important Meal for School Children
  • Smart Snacking – Fuel for School
  • Back to School – Stress-Free Routines
  • Back To School – Tips for Children with Diabetes
  • Physical Activity and the School-Age Child
  • Back to School – The 411 on Quality Sleep
  • Back to School – Four Steps for a Nutritious and Stress-Free Lunch

Jones said these publications are not 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 in the classroom to help keep students focused and well-behaved. Also, they can help with planning classroom parties if food is served,” Jones said. “Teachers can also send these healthy suggestions home with the students to encourage their parents to incorporate items such as fruits, vegetables or whole-grain snacks at home.”

Establishing Future Patterns

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

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

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

More Information

The back-to-school series of publications is available under the Home & Family section of the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu. While there, stop and check out the other great resources that Extension has to offer.

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