Parents encouraged to develop overall wellness in children as part of school preparation
Pre-schooler Myla Plummer gets her height checked by Keisha Palmer, practical nurse, Sagicor Life, during Sagicor's back-to-school wellness fair held in August.

WITH schools returning to face-to-face learning this school year, Sagicor Life Jamaica is encouraging parents to help their child/children develop positive habits that can contribute to their overall wellness throughout the academic year.

Sagicor Life's Wellness Manager Stacy Goodin shared that not only can these habits help with creating a healthy routine for children, but they also contribute to their overall academic success. Here are some tips she shared on how to kick-start your child's journey to total wellness.

1) Build healthy morning and evening routines

The mornings may be hectic as everyone tries to get ready for work and school, and nights may be difficult after the entire family has had a long day. As such, Goodin recommends setting a detailed morning and evening weekday schedule for each child, so that they can develop personal routines.

"Ensure that you set aside a time for each activity they need to do from the moment they wake up until they're through the door, then continue in the evening with their chores, dinner, homework, screen time and so on," Goodin recommends. "This will help to teach them good time management and personal responsibility from an early age."

2) Ensure they eat balanced meals

"Diet is an important aspect of wellness, especially for children as they are developing rapidly," Goodin says. "What they eat now will have a significant impact on their health for the rest of their lives."

The wellness manager advises that you plan a balanced and healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner in advance and fill your child's lunch kit with healthy food options.

"It may be temptingly convenient to give them 'fast foods', but as much as possible, try to choose snacks and meals that are low in saturated fats, salt and sugar. Remember to give them plenty of water to sip on throughout the day as well," she adds.

3) Ensure they get regular health checks

For students to perform at their best academically, it is essential that they are at their best physically. Goodin urges parents to ensure that they remain up to date with their child's vaccinations, dental appointments, and medical check-ups, and keep an eye out for any changes in their vision, hearing, diet, and energy levels.

"In addition to routine school medicals, it is also important to ensure that your child's health insurance is up to date, and that it adequately covers all the doctor visits and medications they may need as they grow. The Sagicor Life School Companion plan, for example, was created with the healthcare needs of school-aged children in mind," Goodin says.

4) Exercise is key

While toddlers are more likely to get their daily dose of physical activity in by playing, it is not uncommon for older children to become increasingly sedentary and replace playtime for screen time. Goodin urges parents to ensure that children get up to an hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day.

"This doesn't have to be all at once, and can include routine activities such as walking," she explains. "Parents also need exercise too, and a good way to make it more fun for both of you is to exercise together. It can be as simple as playing football together or taking a quick jog in your community while your child rides their bicycle in the evenings."

Additionally, she shared that getting them involved in extra-curricular activities at school will help to get them agile as well meet new friends.

5) Be prepared for emergencies

Goodin adds that while we hope for the best to happen throughout the school year, a big part of setting up children for success is being prepared for any eventuality.

"It's important to not only have an emergency fund in place for any sudden expenses that may come up, but it is also essential to have a plan in place if you or your child is affected by a critical illness or other major unfortunate life event," she said. "The Child Protector by Sagicor Life covers children between three months and 15 years old, as it also includes life insurance and investment components as added benefits."

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