Phew, we made it! The festive season is done! Now just a few more weeks of school holidays to get through. What an opportunity! Now is the time to help set your kids up for the best start to the new school year.
You know yourself, it is hard to concentrate when you are tired, hungry and emotional. So how can we expect our kids to be able to learn effectively under these conditions. As adults, we can often attribute the ‘blame’ where it is due; ‘I shouldn’t have stayed up so late’, ‘I need to eat less junk’. Kids often don’t have this awareness, they just know they don’t feel their best, and can scream, cry, act out and behave poorly as a result.
So let’s use these school holidays where ‘there’s nothing to do’ as I’m sure your kids have told you, to establish some routines that can help your kids be their best!
Now sleep is a big topic, as there are lots of variables that can affect your sleep. I’ll go through the key points for kids, but check out September 2019 blog for more information. Primary school aged children need 10-12 hours of sleep a night, teens need around 10 hours. Most kids will wake up at a consistent time in the morning, no matter what time they go to bed, so use your kids wake up time as a guide to when they need to go to sleep. Routine is important for younger children, so try not to disrupt this bedtime as much as you can, even on holidays. A bedtime wind-down routine can be very useful to keep this consistent, you can try reading books together, having a bath before bed, or even a guided meditation for kids to help them go off to sleep (our kids love the New Horizon bedtime meditations).
The temperature of the room they sleep in is important, try to keep it at around 16-18 degrees. Hard on the hot nights I know, but this temperature is the most comfortable to sleep at and can improve the quality of sleep.
I know that food is one of the hardest things to change with kids, but sometimes the smallest swaps can make a big difference.
In a lot of the food we eat, there is added preservatives, colours and other ‘numbers’. Keeping an eye out for and reducing intake of these additives can make a difference to your kids behaviour, attention span and sleep quality. It can seem like a big task, but just checking ingredient labels and trying to keep them as short as possible is a good place to start. A couple of simple swaps to start with:
Supermarket sausages => Cleavers sausages/hot dogs (amazing brand with no added numbers/hormones and grass fed!)
Zooper Doopers => Home made frozen juice popsicles or even just frozen grapes, great for hot days.
Cordial => fruity water. Make a display out of it, chop up their favourite fruits, put them in a jug and let them know it has to be empty by the end of the day (make sure it’s not all the last hour or you will have extra washing to do!!!!)
Snacks => meals. Let’s face it, unless you want to spend hours a day cooking, healthy and cheap snacks aren’t easy. But meals are. So if the kids are hungry, tell them it’s lunch time and set up meat + veg, or a nice tasting plate. Either they stop complaining (win!) or they eat good food (win win!)
These are just a couple to start with, if you want more information about removing additives from your kids diet have a look at additivefreekids.com.au
Some of these might be a bit more preparation, or a bit more expensive than currently, but additives can affect your child’s behaviour, ability to learn and emotional regulation. Why not send your kids to school with foods that can help enhance their brain function, rather than distract them? For some easy, freezer friendly homemade school snacks, check out ‘One Handed Cooks’ on Facebook.
We need movement to learn.
Right from when we are born, children need free movement to figure out how to hold their head up and figure out the motor processes involved in crawling and walking. It doesn’t stop when we learn to walk! Kids then learn how to skip and jump, throw and kick, draw and write. Our brains thrive on movement, the motor pathways in our brain affect learning and emotional regulation.
In this tech driven world, you can be forgiven for thinking we need screens to learn, but this is not the case. Children who are active for 20-30 mins have been shown to have greater concentration in the time following this activity. The activity, walking in this study, was shown to change the way the children’s brains processed information, allowing them to more easily access the higher learning parts of their brain. 1.
How does this apply to you? Get the kids off the screen and moving! Go outside in the backyard, take the dog for a walk, go to the park and play on the playground (spinning, swinging and sliding are all great for your brain, even for mum and dad!), go and play footy or basketball or backyard cricket. Or if it is too hot or cold, use your TV for good! Find Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube and get the family involved. Play some music and have a dance party. Have a planking/balancing/whatever you like competition. Tug of war! OK, maybe not a tug of war inside…
Keep an eye on our Facebook page this month for more inspiration.
So this year, when going back to school, focus on the little changes that make a big difference. Just give it a go, and see if you can set your kids, and yourself up for an amazing year! Who knows, maybe it will help your kids thrive! And while you’re at it, maybe try some of the things yourself.
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At Ballarat and District Chiropractic we know you want to be empowered when it comes your health so we want to help you by sharing all our knowledge about Chiropractic.