Help Your Kids Build a Healthy School Routine

Kids look to the adults in their life for direction. It’s up to us as parents and guardians to instill good habits, which include building a healthy school routine.

This is a good way to help improve our children’s overall well-being, academic success, and long-term development. A structured routine not only helps them thrive in school, but also nurtures their physical, mental, and emotional growth.

Elements of a Healthy School Routine

While we can’t control what goes on inside the classroom, we can make our children’s home life a building block for success:

  • Prioritize consistent sleep patterns — Quality sleep is the foundation of a successful school routine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children aged 6-12 years old require 9-12 hours of sleep per night. Enforce consistent bed and wake-up times to set their internal clock. Create a calming bedtime routine that includes activities such as reading or gentle stretching to signal the transition to sleep.
  • Serve nutrient-rich breakfasts — A nutritious breakfast kick starts your child's day with energy and focus. Add whole grains, lean proteins, and fruits to ensure a balanced meal. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, breakfast can improve brain function and enhance academic performance.
  • Allocate time for physical activity — Regular physical activity supports children's physical health and mental well-being. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Include options like biking, walking, or playing sports to keep them motivated and engaged.
  • Create a dedicated study space — This should be a quiet, organized space for homework and study. This environment helps children concentrate and associate that area with focused learning. The Mayo Clinic recommends minimizing distractions and keeping the study space clutter-free.
  • Encourage regular breaks — Short breaks during study sessions can enhance productivity and prevent burnout. The Pomodoro Technique, where work is divided into focused intervals followed by short breaks, is effective for maintaining concentration.
  • Pack well-balanced lunch and snacks — Nutrient-rich lunches and snacks help fuel a child's day. Include a mix of proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Encourage them to stay hydrated with water throughout the day.
  • Support social interaction — Socializing is vital for emotional development. Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate social activities, whether through school clubs, playdates, or sports teams.
  • Limit screen time — Excessive screen time can impact sleep, mood, and academic performance. The American Heart Association suggests no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day. Set screen time limits and prioritize other activities like reading or outdoor play.
  • Have an evening wind-down routine — As the day winds down, create a calming routine that prepares your child for restful sleep. This can involve activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing deep breathing.
  • Communicate openly — Ask your child plenty of questions about their day, their friends, activities, etc. Regularly check on their school experiences, challenges, and achievements. Creating a safe space for sharing can help address any issues promptly.

Every child is unique, and the routine you create should be tailored to their individual needs and preferences. By prioritizing sleep, nutrition, physical activity, and a supportive environment, you're setting the stage for your child's success in both school and life.

Here for You

Building a routine takes time. AltaMed can help you lay the foundation of success for your kids. Additionally, our counseling services can assist children in navigating the stress associated with returning to school. We also offer the essential vaccines they need to stay protected and grow healthy.

Get started online or by calling us at (888) 499-9303. For information about vaccine appointments, please visit our vaccine hub.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Learning Disorders

How to Spot Learning Disorders

Every child has a unique learning style and pace. However, some children may experience difficulties in processing information, which can harm their academic performance and overall well-being. These challenges are commonly referred to as learning disorders or disabilities.

How do you know if your child has a learning disorder, or is just unique in the way they learn? When do you seek help? How can you provide support? First, we need to know what learning disorders are.

What Are Learning Disorders?

Learning disorders are conditions that affect how individuals acquire, process, organize, and express information. These disorders are not a sign of low intelligence. Rather, they reflect different ways the brain processes and understands certain types of information. Some common learning disorders include:

  • Dyslexia — difficulty with reading
  • Dyscalculia — difficulty with math
  • Dysgraphia — difficulty with writing
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Identifying Learning Disorders

Recognizing the signs of a learning disorder is crucial for development. While each disorder has specific characteristics, there are common warning signs to watch for:

  • Academic struggles — Difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, math, or comprehension that are not in line with the child's age or intellectual ability.
  • Behavioral issues — Hyperactivity, impulsivity, or difficulties following instructions and staying focused.
  • Memory challenges — Difficulty retaining information, forgetfulness, or struggles with organizing thoughts.
  • Poor coordination — Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as handwriting or using scissors.
  • Emotional and social difficulties — Low self-esteem, frustration, anxiety, withdrawal, or challenges in social interactions.

These signs alone do not confirm a learning disorder, but they may indicate the need for further assessment.

When to Seek Help

If you suspect your child may have a learning disorder, it's essential to meet with professionals for an accurate diagnosis. Consider seeking help if:

  • Your child's academic performance lags behind peers despite extra support and effort.
  • Behavioral or emotional difficulties happen often, impacting your child's well-being and social interactions.
  • Teachers or other professionals raise concerns about your child's learning or behavior.
  • You notice a meaningful gap between your child's abilities and achievements in different areas.

Strategies for Support

Once a learning disorder is diagnosed, there are several ways to support and empower children:

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) — Work with teachers and school staff to develop an IEP that addresses your child's specific needs. This plan outlines strategies, changes, and support services to ease learning challenges.
  • Specialized instruction — Explore counseling, therapies, or tutoring programs designed for children with specific learning disorders, such as multisensory reading programs for dyslexia.
  • Assistive technology — Use technology that can aid learning and compensate for specific challenges, such as text-to-speech software or graphic organizers.
  • Emotional support — Create a supportive environment at home and school, encouraging open communication and building self-esteem.

You’re Not Alone

Learning disorders can present unique challenges for children, but with early detection and support, they can thrive academically and emotionally. AltaMed has skilled pediatricians and behavioral health professionals who can help. Additionally, AltaMed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has pediatricians that specialize in developmental and behavioral diagnoses that could assist your child or adolescent. Call us at (323) 669-2113.

Putting a Bandage Post Vaccination

Don’t Forget Immunizations Before Going Back to School

As fall approaches and a new school year begins, it's crucial to prioritize the health and safety of children, especially in light of COVID-19. It's important to remember that vaccines offer protection against a range of serious diseases, not just the coronavirus. Before embarking on back-to-school shopping and capturing those first day pictures, ensure that your family has the necessary immunizations to start the school year safely.

Adhering to a Vaccination Schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a recommended vaccination schedule for newborns and children. While infants receive essential vaccinations during their first years of life, additional boosters are necessary for school-aged children. These include vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella(MMR), varicella (VAR), and an annual flu shot. It's also crucial to ensure children receive vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap), human papillomavirus (HPV), and the meningococcal shot.

Girl Getting Vaccinated

COVID-19 Vaccination for Children

COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, even as we return to normal life and the pandemic no longer tops the news. Vaccines are approved for children as young as six months old. If your child is unvaccinated, multiple vaccine series are available, depending on their age: 

Pfizer-Biontech Bivalent Vaccine:

  • Children 6 months to 4 years old – 3 doses
  • Children 5 years and older – 1 dose

Moderna Bivalent Vaccine:

  • Children 6 months to 5 years old – 2 doses
  • Children 6 years and older – 1 dose

If your child is between 6 months to 5 years old and has already received one or more monovalent doses, your health care team will provide you information on current recommendations based on your vaccine history.

Maintaining Prevention Habits

Given the ease with which COVID-19 and other viruses can spread, it’s crucial for children to adopt healthy habits. These include:

  • Practicing washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding close contact with sick individuals.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of an arm.
  • Wearing masks in public when you or a family member are sick.
Kids Boarding to a School Bus

Establishing a New Routine

In addition to vaccines and COVID-19 prevention measures, it's important to be prepared and establish routines for the new school year. Ensure that your child's school or care facility has your updated contact information for emergency purposes. Regularly check your children for signs of illness, including:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Stay informed about potential COVID-19 exposures and know whom to contact at the school in such cases.

Reinforce proper hand-washing techniques at home and emphasize their importance. Help your child develop daily routines for school, such as using hand sanitizer and a water bottle, as well as washing hands immediately upon returning home.

Stay Informed and Seek Support

Engage in meaningful conversations with your child after school to understand their experiences, and stay attuned to reports of excessive coughing, classroom disruptions, or students leaving school premises due to illness. Being aware of the happenings in their school environment can directly impact your home environment.

Dealing with Change

At AltaMed, we understand the challenges families face during these times. We are here to support you by providing resources for dealing with testing and treating COVID-19, as well as access to vaccines. Additionally, our counseling services can assist children in navigating the stress associated with returning to school.

To learn more about how AltaMed can help, visit or call us at (888) 499-9303. For information about vaccines or testing, please visit our vaccine hub.

Help Your Kids Build a Healthy School Routine