5 expert health tips for Alabama students—sleep, screen time and more


Girl Sitting On Chair
Back-to-school is in full swing in Alabama. (Unsplash)

School is in session and it can be hard for parents and kids to adjust to a new schedule after a summer of fun. We talked to Dr. Jeff Malone, Care Coordinator from Member Management at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, who served 26 years as a pediatrician in Hoover, who offered up health tips on how to keep your kids happy and healthy this fall.

1. Schedule a pediatric checkup.

Two Teams Playing Football
Don’t forget to schedule a pre-sports checkup. (Ben Hershey on Unsplash)

Before going back to school, be sure to make a visit with your child’s pediatrician. They’ll ensure your kiddo’s vaccines are up to date and check their vision and hearing which can affect learning.

Also, if your child will be playing a school sport, they need a pre-sport checkup.

“Wait times for these are longer at your doctor, but your pediatrician is better for these than an urgent care source. They know your child’s history better. There is also a form the coach must have filled out by the doctor; bring it to this visit.”

Dr. Jeff Malone, Care Coordinator from Member Management, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is committed to keeping Alabama healthy.

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2. Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep.

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Have a consistent bedtime schedule. ( CC BY-SA 2.0)

It can take up to a week for bodies to adjust to new sleep schedules. Dr. Malone recommends elementary school kids get 9-10 hours per night, but understands each child is different. A trick to helping you know how much sleep your kid needs is by paying attention to how many uninterrupted hours they sleep on a Saturday morning. This will be the same amount needed on a school night.

Teens tend to think they need less, but they don’t. Dr. Malone recommends making sure they get no less than seven hours a night.

3. Set limits on screen time.

Girl In Gray T-Shirt Using White Laptop Computer
Limit screen time. (Unsplash)

Kids love screen time. It’s important for parents to know that all screen time is equal in terms of brain stimulation—whether it’s a tablet, phone, TV, video games or computer. Dr. Malone suggested having a “turn off or turn it in” time for teens. For parents with younger children he recommends establishing a no screens after 8PM rule.

Connect with Blue Cross and Blue and Blue Shield of Alabama on Instagram for more health tips.

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4. Plan snacks ahead of time.

Woman In Black And White Striped Long Sleeve Shirt Holding Stainless Steel Bowl
Make meal prepping fun. (Annie Spratt / Unsplash)

Snacks are a great way to make sure your kids are consuming balanced foods to keep their energy high for learning. Spend an hour each weekend preparing healthy snacks so they’re ready to grab when you need them. Let the kids tag along to the grocery store to help you pick out and prep snacks they like. The more involved they are, the more excited they’ll be to eat.

Here are a few ways Dr. Malone suggests to get your kids involved in snack prep:

  • Take your kids to the grocery store and ask them about particular items.
  • Have your kids help clean, slice and bag their week worth of snacks.
  • Encourage your kids to try new foods.
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5. Talk to your children.

Woman In Black Dress Sitting On Chair
Talk about what to expect at school. (Natasha Hall / Unsplash)

Discuss school expectations with your kids. Talk about good behaviors and bad. Dr. Malone recommends talking to them each afternoon about their day, friends and their teachers. He also pointed out parents should be on the lookout for changes in facial expressions or talkativeness as signs something may be going on that requires your attention.

Stay connected with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama on Facebook and Instagram and explore their website for the more expert health tips and wellness advice.

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Lauren Perry
Lauren Perry
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