“Not” Back to School
Published on Sat Aug 29, 2020 - 3 min read
Getting kids ready for school in the new era of distance learning.
Grab those backpacks and get ready to start those morning routines; it’s that time of year again – or is it? Like pretty much everything else in life, going “back” to school looks a lot different during a global pandemic. The Coronavirus second wave does not show any evidence of cresting, and if recent reports reign true, it is gaining momentum as younger populations are getting infected1. The continued pandemic has put serious doubt on whether schools will reopen on time or at all this coming fall. Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom2, and as a result, education has changed dramatically with the rise of remote e-learning platforms3.
While remote learning solves some problems, it presents many new challenges for our students, teachers, and parents. Some of these challenges are already becoming apparent with the advent of “virtual dropouts; 20% of Boston high schoolers didn’t log in during May, and 50% of elementary children didn’t make daily contact4. While attendance is a significant issue, it is just one of the many new challenges we face, which range from digital “burnout” to obesity to nutrient deficiencies5. It is important to remain diligent in our approach to education, especially while home, to ensure these pandemic years do not create an education gap in our children6.
Here at the Shoppe, we’ve identified vital supplement and lifestyle tips to meet and beat these new challenges.
Supplements & Diet
- Digital eye protection supplements are becoming one of, if not the most essential supplements kids can take with kids now spending up to 8 hours per day in front of a screen. The high energy blue wavelengths of light these devices emit can damage eye tissue15, create autistic-like patterns in children16, ruin sleep17, unbalance hormones18, and trigger depression19. Sunflower Shoppe now carries many highly effective digital eye protection supplements to help combat these issues20.
- Immune boosters are certainly the health topic of the year21. Kids will need to keep their immune system in excellent shape for when classrooms are open again. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc are turning out to be the most important during the coronavirus pandemic22. We recommend children specific dosages of each of these for the duration of the school year.
- Boost mental performance with a class of “smart herbs” known as nootropics, a class of supplements that enhance the brain’s ability to learn23. Bacopa is a nootropic herb that studies have shown is a potent stress reducer that also boosts certain neurotransmitters, which help with anxiety and depression24, a key risk during isolation. In a 12-week study, children who took just 50 mg twice daily showed significant improvements in mental control, logical memory, and learning ability25.
- The Big 3: Multivitamins, Magnesium, and Fish Oil. A multivitamin provides vitamins and minerals, which are the building blocks of your child’s immune system, growth, healthy energy levels, and brain development. Magnesium is best known for its relaxing and anti-stress properties; however, it also supports healthy bone growth, muscles, and nerve function. Studies suggest magnesium also enhances memory and learning abilities in children26. Fish oil is critical for eye, nerve, and brain health as it contains the essential omega-3s EPA and DHA27. Recent analyses have shown that those with ADHD have lowered levels of omega 3s and that supplementing with fish oil significantly improved symptoms28,29.
Proper “Classroom” Etiquette
- Setting and maintaining a routine is the absolute backbone of a successful classroom: Children learn and perform better when they have clear expectations. Setting routines helps define healthy learning and study habits that will carry over to when kids are in classrooms again and later in life7.
- Screen the screen time: Cellphones, laptops, tablets are necessary tools of eLearning. However, the unchecked and unlimited use of such technologies has been linked to lower test scores8 and a myriad of potential psychological and physical harm9. Because digital screens emit powerful wavelengths of blue light that stress the brain and wear out our eyes, it is vital to take regular “screen-free” breaks throughout the day as well as to limit their use at night10.
- Take regular breaks for outdoor activity: Evidence suggests that mathematics and reading are the academic topics that are most influenced by physical activity. These topics depend on efficient and effective executive function, which has been linked to physical activity and physical fitness11.
- Ensuring children still socialize is one of the key reasons the CDC is recommending kids go back to classrooms as soon as possible12. The importance of face-to-face interaction with their peers is so essential it outweighs the risks of coronavirus. Many learning and empathy-related centers of the brain rely on this vital input13. Without proper socialization, children have stunted learning, poor emotional and social intelligence, and less self-esteem14.
While students may be learning differently than in previous years, we hope the tools outlined above can ensure they are still learning effectively. If we work together, students can come away this year with an excellent education and healthy habits that can help them in the classroom and beyond.