5 Tips for Promoting Healthy Summer Habits for Students

May 14, 2024
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For many students, summer break can be unstructured compared to the school year. While many students use their summer vacation time to play outside with friends and family or participate in physical activities, others may not engage in healthy summer habits for students that they otherwise would during the school year.

Research also shows that children sometimes lose the fitness gains made during the school year. The summer break from the usual school routine can also offset a number of other things, like a regular sleeping schedule, eating habits, and gauging appropriate screen time. Read on for five tips on how to help the children in your life have a healthy summer that will pay dividends in the future.

1. Talk About Healthy Summer Habits for Students with Nutrition

Food is fuel for our bodies and minds, and having a nutritious diet is an important part of a healthy and active lifestyle. However, it's important when talking about nutrition to make sure the focus stays away from labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and avoid discussing weight gain or loss.

Instead, help children develop a healthy relationship with food by focusing on how different foods fuel our bodies, letting them dictate portion sizes, allowing them to help out with cooking and meal planning, and providing a variety of nutritious options during mealtimes.

2. Aim For 60 Active Minutes Per Day

The CDC recommends that children ages 3 through 5 should be active throughout the day, and children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 should be active for 60 minutes every day. This may sound like a lot, but it can be done more easily than you think with a little creativity.

Jumping, running, walking, and climbing are all great ways for younger children to move and be active. This could all be accomplished during a game of tag with friends, a trip to the neighborhood park, or a visit to an indoor obstacle course.

For older children, getting active could be as simple as taking a family bike ride, exploring a new park or nature preserve, playing with jump ropes or toy hoops, or trying a water activity like paddleboarding. There are also numerous summer camps for children interested in trying a sport or particular outdoor activity—your local YMCA or park board is a great place to start your search.

3. Get Good, Healthy Sleep

During summer break, it’s easy for a regular sleep schedule to derail a little bit. Traveling and vacationing, staying up late, sleeping in, and even skipping naps can all throw off a sleep schedule and make it harder to adjust back to a “normal” bedtime routine when the school year starts back up.

But just because there’s no school to rush off to in the morning doesn’t mean that getting a good night’s rest is any less important. Getting an adequate amount of sleep has been shown to improve attention, learning, behavior, and overall physical and mental health in children.

The occasional late-night movie party won’t hurt, but try to maintain healthy sleep habits during summer break by helping your children establish a bedtime routine that allows them to wind down and relax. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day is also important. Be sure to also turn off and stow away screens at least an hour before lights out.

4. Become a Health Role Model

Children pay closer attention to the adults around them than we often realize. If children watch the adults in their lives engage in healthy forms of exercise and activity, use body-positive language, and enjoy a variety of fresh, nutritious foods, that behavior will become the norm for them. In turn, they will be that much more likely to pick up similar healthy summer habits for themselves.

Make an effort to involve your child in the kitchen. Turn grocery shopping and meal prep into a collaborative effort. Let them help choose healthy recipes, pick out colorful fruits and vegetables, and assist with age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen. This not only creates a sense of ownership over healthy choices but also provides opportunities to discuss nutrition in a practical and engaging way. Remember, it's not just about the food – make mealtimes a fun family ritual where everyone connects and enjoys this time together.

5. Unplug

It’s hard to completely get away from screens. They are ever-present in today’s world, and when used thoughtfully and appropriately, they can help us learn new things, connect with friends and family, and so much more.

Still, adults and children alike can easily get wrapped up in games, videos, TV, and social media on their computers and mobile devices for hours on end. It’s important to develop healthy boundaries regarding screen time, especially for young children.

You can start by having a family discussion about how “too much” screen time can take away from other fun activities and what kind of realistic expectations you can set together about media consumption at home.

Maybe family movie night becomes family game night every other week. Maybe all phones go in another room during meals. If you notice that you or your children are having a day with too much screen time, direct everyone toward a different activity that gets them up, moving, and away from a screen.

Fun Activities Fostering Healthy Summer Break Habits for Students

Looking for resources on getting your students and children thinking about healthy habits this summer? Check out these engaging Edmentum activities that celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and teach children about the importance of healthful food choices.

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