7. Talk to your kid about bullying. And keep talking to him. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Keane advises sitting down regularly with your children to make sure they are not victims or proponents of bullying, and also that they and their friends have healthy relationships. "Just have a non-judgmental conversation to say that this happens when kids get together," Keane said. "You want to make sure they're not doing it to someone else, and if it's happening to them that they tell you so you can make it stop."
8. Know what's new about protecting your kid's noggin. In July, the Maryland State School Board added new requirements and regulations for schools to help protect student athletes from brain injury. By the end of this month, each local school system will have trained coaches in concussion symptoms, risk and management to better educate them on when athletes should be removed from play. Schools will also be required to implement policies that assure students and their parents receive information about the nature and risk of concussions. Keane suggests that parents should pay close attention to these new measures, possibly scheduling or attending a group meeting with their children and coaches to talk about risk. "If kids are going to participate in contact sports, they should probably have a meeting with coaches to talk about hydration, head injuries and injuries on the field," she says. "It's important for parents to know how staff will handle injuries and how parents will be contacted."
9. Don't be a part of a failure to communicate. Even if your child has his or her diabetes regimen under control, it's important for the school nurse and teachers to know what to do in case of an emergency, Keane says. Leave extra asthma medicine with the nurse, or if your child has severe allergies, make sure he or she carries an EpiPen.
10. Know when to keep sick kids home, and when to send them to school. While some feel you should keep kids with the sniffles home to prevent spreading germs, Keane says it will already be too late. "Usually, three days before the cold you have been shedding the virus, so by the time you have a sore throat and a cough, you've already spread that to the classroom," Keane said. "So staying home for minor symptoms is pointless. Don't let your kid miss out on learning." On the other hand, Keane says, children should never be at school with a fever, and they should go 24 hours without one before they are allowed to go back.
11. Even non-athletes need to get a move on. The American College of Sports Medicine released results of a University of Rome study in March that found adding physical activity into the school day helps children concentrate on their academic work. Even if your children aren't interested in sports, consider encouraging them to add a block of physical activity to their school schedule. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children 6 to 17 years old should be getting one hour or more of physical activity every day. Three days a week they should be participating in a vigorous-intensity activity. As well, they should do muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activity three days a week. In children in this age group, health benefits of physical activity include improved bone health, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression and improved cardio-respiratory endurance and muscular fitness.
12. And make sure they get to sleep, perchance to dream. Keane suggests taking TVs and computers out of bedrooms at night and only allowing quiet activities before bed, like reading or drawing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have the following guidelines for making sure your child gets enough sleep:
3-5 years: 11-13 hours
5-10 years: 10-11 hours
10-17 years: 81/2 -91/2 hours