Back To School Health: Dr. Starbuck Explains

Aug 20, 2018

Hi! I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck, a naturopathic family physician. I’m here today with health tips for kids about going back to school.

It’s school time again - kind of sad because summer is ending and kind of fun because all sorts of different things are starting. There’ll be adventures in learning, seeing old friends and making new friends, sports, clubs, music, art - a whole world of possibilities.

The start of school is also stressful. It’s a big change and big changes are hard on your body. When school starts, both kids and parents will feel better if they follow a few simple back-to-school health tips.

Most kids already know about getting to bed on time, eating breakfast and the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

What I’d like to talk about are a few different ways to make going back to school a healthy and happy experience.

First, think about what you do at night with your cell phone, your computer, tablet or IPad. Electronic devices flicker and shimmer and get our brains pretty wound up. On school nights, turn them off at least one hour before bed. Let your brain relax during that hour before sleep. Read a book, have a cup of tea, take a bath, do some stretching, sing. That way your brain and body will quiet down and you are likely to get a good night’s rest.

For tip two, you might need an adult to help. Weigh your backpack. It shouldn’t weigh more than 15% of your body weight. Get on a scale and see how much you weigh. Then figure out what is 15% of your weight. For example, if you weigh 80 pounds, 15% is 12 pounds.

Then put your whole backpack on the scale. If it weighs more than 15% of your weight, you’ve got to take some stuff out of it. Otherwise, you might get a headache or a backache or even a strained shoulder or neck after carrying that too heavy backpack every day.

Third, remember that when you start school, you’ll be sitting in a room for hours each day with all sorts of new people. As well as fun and learning, you’ll be exposed to new germs and colds and all sorts of things you haven’t been around for most of the summer. To avoid getting sick or bringing something contagious home to your family, always wash your hands with soap and water before you eat lunch or a snack, and wash your hands and your face right away when you get home from school. I do this when I get home from my doctor office, just to make sure I haven’t brought home any germs from my patients.

You can also talk to your parents about a few good natural medicines that help your immune system stay strong while you begin a new school year. My favorite back-to-school medicines for kids are vitamin c, fish oil and elderberry.

You can get vitamin c from fruit, especially oranges and grapefruit. You can also buy it in a powder and put it in water or juice.

Fish oils come in a liquid or a capsule or a gummy. Your parents can help you know which kind is right for you.

Elderberry can help protect kids from colds and flu so I recommend that kids have a spoonful of elder syrup every day during the fall and winter. Elderberries are purple and grow right here in Montana. Keep an eye out and you’ll be sure to see them somewhere in your town or nearby forest.

I hope you have a great back-to-school season this year. I’m Dr. Jamison Starbuck and I’m wishing you well.