How Can Schools Help Manage Chronic Health Problems?

Child with Crutches

With the percentage of children diagnosed with chronic health conditions on the rise, schools must be actively involved in helping manage these conditions, which often include asthma, diabetes, food allergies, and seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, as well as mental/ emotional conditions, including ADHD. By taking a coordinated and systematic approach to both these students’ education and illness to ensure their needs are met, these students have the ability to reach their maximum potential. Here’s a quick look at five things a school can do to ensure this happens.
 

1. Provide training programs for staff.

School Teacher

All school employees should have a basic understanding of any exceptional student health conditions. There should be information on the child’s condition, necessary precautions, and what emergency actions to take, such as what to do if a seizure occurs or how to administer medications.

2. Offer home bound instruction when warranted.

Currently, no law specifically requires schools to provide home bound instructions to students who are unable to attend school. Unfortunately, this leaves chronically ill students at a disadvantage by setting them up to quickly fall behind. By providing an instructor, or at the very least arranging for assignments via email and online chats/ Skyping with teachers or an entire class, these students can stay caught up in the classroom.

3. Make reasonable accommodations readily available.

Identifying and implementing specific reasonable accommodations that will make it easier for the student to excel in the classroom is crucial. This could be as simple as allowing a student with scoliosis to keep a set of books in the classroom and at home to avoid the strain of carrying them back and forth. Or giving a child with chronic gastrointestinal issues a permanent hall pass that can be used to go to the restroom without waiting to ask for the teacher’s permission. For children with ADHD, this could involve allowing extra time to finish tests, while students with a compromised immune system should be allowed to switch seats if a nearby student shows signs of an illness.

4. Develop and implement an Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.

An IEP, Individual Education Program, outlines customized learning strategies and goals for the chronically ill student. It can define any support services he or she needs to reach their milestones, such as a qualified tutor. Created by teachers, counselors, and school psychologists, usually with parental input, this may include providing additional time for projects or providing special education services when deemed necessary. A 504 Plan specifies any physical accommodations needed to help the student navigate around the school and receive the same access to school activities, facilities, and instruction as students without a chronic physical disability.

5. Create an Emergency Care Plan.

Emergency Plan

Emergencies, such as a poorly controlled seizure, can happen and are best handled when there is a plan already in place. Any staff members who are in contact with the child should have basic training on what to do, where life-saving medications are kept, and how to notify the office that medical assistance is needed.

In Conclusion

By identifying the special need child and having an emergency plan in place, the school is ensuring that every child can accelerate. After all, this is the goal of education; developing our young people.

How Can we Reduce the Child Obesity Rate Through Diet and Exercise?

measureweight

 

Childhood obesity is a major problem around the globe, particularly in developed countries. This condition can translate into numerous medical problems both in the short-term and the long-term. Typically, obese and overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure and even high cholesterol. This predisposes them to heart and circulatory diseases. They are also likely to develop diabetes, GERD, breathing problems and musculoskeletal disorders. Also, obese children face significant social and psychological issues such as discrimination and low self-esteem.

 

 

Prevent Obesity in Children

Fortunately, childhood obesity can be managed and prevented. In general, obesity develops when the energy intake in a child is much higher than the total expenditure. Therefore, if the food intake is lowered and exercise increased, the weight problems can be controlled. In simple terms, diet and exercise are the most crucial elements for dealing with obesity.

Simple Rules to Follow:

Here are some simple but practical methods that parents, teachers, and other caregivers can utilize to reduce the childhood obesity rate:

Control Access to Sugars and Fats

Consumption of foods which are high in calories contributes to the development of obesity in children. Simply speaking, if a child takes a snack with a high-calorie value, they will not be able to get rid of the extra energy through exercise because the total amount of calories is too high. Therefore, parents and teachers should limit the children’s access to junk food. Junk food refers to edible products which are high in calories but have minimal nutritional value. You should be particularly cautious of food items which are high in fats and sugars. These substances are stored in the body and contribute to weight problems and other medical issues.

 

boy eating

Promote Better Eating Habits

Children should have access to healthy foods for proper development.  School lunches can be instrumental in making sure that healthy meals are available for all children.  Ideally, kids should be provided foods that have high nutritional value and low calories.  Vegetables and fruits should always be available as part of main meals and snacks. Dairy products are also healthy, but focus choices on low-fat alternatives. Carbohydrates should be whole grains and proteins should comprise primarily of fish, poultry, lean meat and plant proteins. Additionally, school lunches should control portions that children eat.

 

Make Healthy Meals More Attractive

One of the main challenges posed by healthy diets for children is the lack of appeal.  “Ugly lunches” can make the battle against obesity tough because food is the core factor in dealing with weight. Therefore, parents and school lunch providers should experiment with different healthy recipes to make meals more attractive. For the best results, ask the children for their opinions so that you can develop meals that they will eat and enjoy. You should also consider modifying some of their favorite unhealthy meals. For example, make pizza with healthy vegetables. You can also change your cooking methods: for example, fried foods can be baked or grilled.

Help Your Children Stay Active

girl playing ball

 

Children should be involved in physical activity of moderate intensity for at least one hour per day. This will allow them to increase the energy expenditure in the body and promote weight loss and stability. If your children are not willing to attempt traditional exercises like running or cycling, they can have fun with activities such as dancing, swimming and playing sports. Physical education in schools is an excellent way to get kids to move around.

 

Explain the Benefits of Exercise

Parents and teachers should also educate children on the potential benefits of remaining physically active. Knowing the benefits of exercise can help kids be more personally motivated to keep up an exercise routine. For example, they should be aware of the impact of exercise on weight management, the health benefits and even the increased self-esteem that comes with being healthy.

A great way for both teachers and parents to stay informed is to research on the internet.  There is a world of blogs and websites that give helpful advise on keeping kids healthy.  Kelly Smith has a blog that has a number of excellent nutritional and exercise tips.  I am sure you will find it very informational.

What is a Healthy School Environment for our Kids Today?

Kids in a public school

 

Our children are our most precious natural resource. Properly raising and motivating them requires an investment from both parents and the education community as well. For children in public and private schools, it is imperative that they are in a healthy environment every day for them to grow and thrive. If the environment they go to school in is not healthy, children are unable to reach their fullest potential, which is detrimental not only to them but to all of us.

So, what makes for a healthy school environment for our kids?

There are several components that work together to ensure each child receives the best education possible.
Three main areas have a large impact on children and where educators need to focus their efforts.

A school needs to be:

1. Nutritionally Healthy

School lunch room

A healthy diet is essential to a child being able to perform well at school. When the body lacks proper nutrition, it has a noticeable impact on brain function. Being hungry can cause problems with growth and development, memory, behavior and overall ability to learn well in a classroom setting. When a child goes to school hungry or has a poor breakfast or lunch, the effects are felt far beyond mealtime. Thankfully, there are assistance programs to help ensure that all children receive adequate nutrition to give them the chance to be their best at school.

2. Physically Healthy

School Playground

Working hand in hand with nutrition, physical health, and fitness is also paramount for children. This includes the child feeling safe from physical harm in their school environment and also getting the adequate amount of exercise each day. Even though younger children tend to be active enough on their own to meet their physical activity requirements, it is still important for them to be involved in a regular program of exercise at school. Exercise becomes even more critical as the child grows and may tend to be less active on his or her own. Keeping kids physically fit contributes to their overall health, thus helping them to perform better in school and possibly miss fewer days of school due to illness.

3. Emotionally Healthy

Two happy girls

When a child’s diet and exercise needs are met, it is a tremendous boost to their ability to learn and thrive at school. Also important is the emotional environment in the classroom. When a child is encouraged to learn and challenged to do their very best, a positive view of education is instilled in them. They will feel free to try and possibly fail, knowing it’s all a part of learning. If there is no positive reinforcement or the child feels ignored or unimportant, they will stop trying. This does not mean that every child should get a trophy just for showing up, but a little positive reinforcement and support can go a long way in not only how the child performs at school, but in life as well.

 

We Are All Responsible

It is up to us, as parents and educators, to make sure that each child can be educated in a safe, caring, healthy environment. This is our responsibility to them; they are unable to do it for themselves. If we are to see the next generation grow to be healthy and productive, we must ensure that we give them all that they need today. Doing so is an investment not only in children but an investment in our future – an investment in all of us.