Kysha Rooks column: Keep your kids healthy this summer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 18, 2022

By Kysha Rooks
N.C. Cooperative Extension

During summer, children are free from PTA meetings, homework, the hurry to catch a school bus, meal planning and bedtimes. However, the carefree season is not healthy for our youths. Even though the break is relaxing, some routines are important for children to stick with throughout the year. Notably, parents should ensure kids do daily exercise routines and have the right amount of sleep since excessive breaks can lead to unhealthy adjustments.

Some behaviors that can keep kids healthy include the right focus on food. Parents can always pack food for their children, even when they are on school holidays. It is important when kids are spending their summer in a camp — instead of fast food and searching the vending machine, they can take their packed meal along with them. Parents should also take advantage of their kids’ free time to participate in their food selection. In her research, Alicia Barney of WebMD mentions that children who get involved in their food preparation eat more fruits and vegetables. Therefore, parents should encourage their kids to help them pick foodstuffs and then prepare dinner together.

Parents should also consider finding a new routine. The school timetable consists of activities that advance healthy habits. Hence, parents should plan the lazy summer period to ensure children have enough physical activities. For instance, they can sign their kids up for swim lessons or choose low-cost options and go for a walk to the neighboring parks.

Lastly, there is no better way to show children that walking is fun. Barney notes that parents should not focus on burning calories but rather help kids find activities they like or consider something new. Also, they should set the times per day that they all take a walk, ride a bike or do other activities. It all counts to the 60 minutes of activity children need each day. This way, children will enhance their health during summer breaks and will adapt to the following school year with less stress.

Kysha Rooks is an EFNEP educator and Extension program assistant with the Rowan County Extension.

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