During National Public Health Week April 1-7, schools encouraged parents to consider ways to improve student health, grades, attendance and behavior.
Some ways to help include supporting school efforts to provide all children access to nutritious meals and working with schools to ensure vending machines offer water and juices instead of high-sugar sodas and healthy snacks instead of high-fat, high-sugar junk food.
School efforts are in place to teach kids to say no to tobacco, drugs and alcohol; to delay sexual activity; and to be educated about preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. While Delaware schools are smoke-free, parents can advocate for smoke- and tobacco-free policies at public areas where children are present.
Parents can also support schools by speaking up about the importance of physical education at school. Being overweight and obese can cause diseases like cancer and diabetes. More than 25 percent of Delaware public schools have met the Healthier U.S. School Challenge. Learn more about first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign at www.letsmove.gov.
Parents can also ask their children about the fire and safety drills that are held regularly in school. Find out about safe paths for walking to school.
In addition, parents can ask schools about their policies against bullying and how kids experiencing bullying know where to get help. A 2008 Delaware law requires each district and charter school to have a bullying policy: www.doe.k12.de.us/infosuites/students_family/climate/files/Bully%20Prevention%20Law%20Outline.pdf.
Schools can promote good dental health by teaching the importance of having dental cleanings at least twice per year, brushing three times daily and flossing daily. The Division of Public Health’s dental van visits high-risk elementary schools to provide sealants that prevent cavities. The uninsured can also access free dental care at www.freedentalcare.us/st/delaware.
Finally, parents can schedule an appointment with their child's pediatrician. Well-child visits continue to be essential as children get older. All children entering kindergarten and grade nine are required to have health examinations; annual exams are also recommended.
For more ideas on how to improve health and safety at school, visit www.nphw.org.