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By Sara Bondell

The bell is about to ring for the new school year! That means days filled with classes, homework and heavy backpacks.

Here are some tips to make sure your child gets an A+ when it comes to health and safety at school.

Backpack Safety

Student with backpackHeavy backpacks put children at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Make sure your child is putting the backpack straps on both shoulders instead of just slinging it over one. He or she should be wearing the backpack midback, hanging no lower than four inches below their waistline. Backpacks should not be heavier than 10 percent of their body weight.

Desk Etiquette

SchooldeskYour child will spend the majority of the day sitting at a desk or at a computer so it’s important they maintain a proper form. While sitting down, feet should be flat on the floor and knees should be at a 90-degree angle. If your child is using a computer, the screen should be at eye level to reduce neck strain. No matter where they’re sitting, it’s important that they take frequent stretch breaks. They should be getting up whenever they can to march in place and stretch their neck, back shoulders and wrists.

Healthy Lunches

Healthy lunchStudies show that children who eat a well-balanced nutritious lunch are more alert in the afternoon and perform better overall in school. School cafeterias can be brimming with unhealthy temptations, so try and pack your child’s lunch as often as possible. Make sure their lunchbox includes a source of protein, like a hard-boiled egg or trail mix and healthy snacks like fruit, cheese or whole-grain crackers. Try to avoid pre-packaged or processed foods that are full of sodium and preservatives.

Sun Safety

Green sunglassesWhen your child is waiting at the bus stop or playing outside during recess or PE, make sure he or she is protected from the sun. You can incorporate sun safety into everyday conversation by checking the weather forecast together and discussing the types of clothing that would be most appropriate to wear. You can also send your child off to school with sun protection pack that includes sunscreen, lip balm, a hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved or sun protective shirts.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Child sleepingNot getting enough sleep is detrimental to your overall well-being can cause serious health conditions. To make sure your child is getting enough shut-eye, try and maintain a constant schedule where he or she is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. and try to eat dinner more than two hours before bedtime.