Health and Wellness / Ages 2-18

Want to Raise a Healthy Learner? Ask These 3 Questions.

Parents get a lot of advice about how to raise healthy kids these days. We won’t pile on more of it. But here are three questions to ask about your child’s health that really matter for their success in school.

Parents get a lot of advice about how to raise healthy kids. This usually involves opinions on what kids should eat, how much exercise they should get, and how much is too much when it comes to screen time. We’re not here to weigh in on those things.

(Although we do have thoughts on screens. Spoiler alert: We’re parents too, and screens are a part of life.)

But there are a few basic health matters that can have a big impact on your child’s well-being in school—and they might not be on your radar. Start with these 3 questions:


Are they getting enough sleep?

Kids’ developing brains are especially in need of good sleep—and it probably goes without saying that well-rested kids are better able to focus in school. (A good night’s rest will probably make your morning routine less painful, too, which can then help your child avoid being late or absent.) But the benefits of good sleep go beyond just participating in class. Research shows that consistently good sleep can help children and teens avoid anxiety and depression. At a time when many parents are worried about their children’s mental health, supporting good sleep is a relatively easy way to help your child stay healthy.


Can they see the board?

Kids with undiagnosed vision issues will face a host of challenges in school, from seeing what’s written on the board to reading fluently. And there’s good reason to be concerned about children’s vision: Rates of myopia—that’s nearsightedness—among children are on the rise. If your child is squinting, frequently rubbing their eyes, tiring quickly while trying to read or do homework, or holding books or magazines particularly close to their face, it’s a good idea to check in with their pediatrician. While most states require universal vision checks in school, they don’t happen every year, so your child might not have had one in a while. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends vision checks for children at ages 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 15 (or any time you have a concern).


Can they hear their teachers?

It’s also important to have your child’s hearing screened periodically, especially if they show any signs of struggle. Signs of a hearing issue include if your child is not responding when you’re talking to them—more so than typical kid behavior!—or if they’re asking you to repeat yourself frequently. Kids with hearing challenges might also have unclear speech themselves, or you might notice them turning the volume up on devices. If you notice your child doing any of these things consistently, or have other cause for concern, check in with your pediatrician. The AAP recommends hearing screenings for children at ages 5, 6, 8, and 10, and while many school districts do conduct periodic hearing screenings, it’s a good idea to check with your child’s school if you’re not sure.

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