Wake-Up Call
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Wake-Up Call

3 Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Thrive While Virtual Learning

Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth, on how parents can help their children maintain their well-being while managing school during this uncertain time

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Whether you’re a caretaker with a young school-aged child or a parent with a high schooler, you may be facing the stress of juggling homeschooling — along with everything else on your plate — right now. You’re in luck: with our friends at Sleep Number, we’re answering your burning questions about how to make sure your kids aren’t missing out on important learning experiences while maintaining a healthy routine for the whole family.

In our first installment, Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth, a nonprofit that creates healthier school communities by empowering students to create a healthy future for themselves and their peers, answers a question from a Wake-Up Caller whose high school student is struggling to do her best at school during this uncertain time.

Q: My daughter is a senior honor student who is now stressed and anxious. How can we help our kids maintain their wellbeing right now during this uncertain time?

That’s a great question and as a mom of four, I can totally relate to student stress, anxiety and the challenges of navigating school and studies via distance learning, in school or a mix of both. I see that stress first-hand every day with my children and strongly believe that there are three essential pillars that can help our children thrive…

GETTING BETTER SLEEP:

Sleep is often the first thing that gets pushed aside for children’s demanding schedules. Less than 50 percent of teens across the country are getting enough sleep, according to a youth insights survey conducted by GENYOUth in partnership with Sleep Number. That research also found that 71 percent of middle and high school-aged students are getting less sleep on weekday nights than they need to perform at their best throughout the school day.

These sleep-deprived students are losing about 8.5 hours of sleep per school week on average. That’s equal to missing out on one full night’s sleep a week. Sleep impacts a child’s physical and emotional development, as well as academic and athletic performance, so creating a consistent sleep schedule and ensuring your child gets at least nine hours of sleep a night is a good start.

To help, Sleep Number experts suggest having your kids limit their screen time, turn off their phones and read a book or prepare for bed by listening to relaxing music. You can read more about this here.

EATING NUTRITIOUS MEALS:

I’m a strong advocate for having your children eat a balanced diet. A recent GENYOUth report stresses that: “Vital to learning and cognition are the nutrients necessary to support normal growth and development, and a good guidepost is ensuring your child’s diet includes a good mix of dairy, protein, fruits and vegetables.”

Our report also underscores the importance of breakfast and its positive effect on a child’s overall nutrition, cognition and a healthy lifestyle.

If time or resources are tight for parents, many schools continue to provide nutritious school meals, even if they are operating under a remote or hybrid learning model. SAP4Kids can help families identify local school feeding sites to access vital meals daily for families who have been hit the hardest. For more information on SAP4Kids and the Resource Locator Map, visit www.sap.com/sap4kids

GETTING ACTIVE:

Children need to get moving! No surprise here that food and fitness are fundamental to student wellness and academic performance. Research underscores that students who are physically active tend to have higher grades, better school attendance, increased cognitive performance and improved classroom behaviors.

Regular physical activity can also help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and the risk of developing chronic health conditions. While my children are distance learning, I make sure I get them out of the house after school to work out on our local fields. They either go for runs or create pick-up games of lacrosse or basketball with their friends — in a socially distanced and safe way. Children need time away from their computer screens and it’s my personal mission to make sure they are physically active every day.

As parents, it is vital that we practice what we preach. If I expect my kids to sleep well, eat a healthy breakfast, and get as close to 60 minutes of physical activity daily, I must do the same! Join them. It’s liberating!

This appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.

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Katie Couric

Katie Couric

Founder, Katie Couric Media. Newscaster: Wake-Up Call. Podcaster: Next Question. Doc filmmaker. @SU2C founder.