Build your kids' immunity for Back to School

Build your kids' immunity for Back to School


And just like that, school is back in session… for some. 

The only thing that's certain right now is that we're not certain.


Summer is in full swing, but for many parents ‘back to school’ questions weigh heavily on the mind. 

“Is it safe for my child to go back to school with a pandemic still on the rise?” 

“What will the school classroom and social hours be like?”

“What is the school bus safety protocol?”

“What will disinfecting procedures look like in the classroom?”

With so many questions unanswered there can be a glimmer of positivity by acting on what can be controlled. Start today by building healthy minds, bodies and immunity to confidently head back to school stronger than ever. 

In an interview with Robert Hull, the President and CEO of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), Hull talked about what is being considered when it comes to school’s ability to reopen in the fall. He says not all schools will be able to reopen, but those that do will look radically different. Priority number one will be the safety of students and staff when determining reopening. He said in order to reopen, schools may have to implement smaller class sizes, staggered start times, and limited class changes.

Some of the most obvious differences going to back to school may be:

  • Increased sanitization of classrooms and buses
  • Social distancing classroom layouts that keep students 6 feet apart
  • Lunch eaten in the classroom
  • Rotated, blended and staggered schedules
  • Teachers and children wearing masks and other personal protective gear
  • Frequent temperature checks
  • Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Separating child’s belongings from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or areas


How to build your kids' immunity for Back to School?

With a little bit of preparation and forethought, it is possible to help ease the transition of going back to school within a ‘new normal’. A strong immune system and healthy habits require daily maintenance, here are some tools to get you and your family started:


Kids are not born with a craving for burgers and pizza. This conditioning happens over time as kids are exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. Eating well can be difficult — family schedules are hectic and grab-and-go convenience food is readily available. Back to school may involve skipping the cafeteria and eating lunch while social distancing in a classroom. Try these ideas during the summer to send them off with a packed lunch full of nutritional goodness and knowledge: 

  • Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks while discussing portion sizes in a fun and engaging way. Rice or pasta portions should match the size of their fist. A portion of meat is palm-sized, and portions of fats, like butter or oils, are similar to the tip of their thumb. When you buy packaged foods, have kids help you find the serving size. Keep your child's sugar consumption at moderate levels. Add Sambucol elderberry gummies to their lunchbox as a healthy alternative fruity dessert. 
  • Kids need to know that every food they put into their bodies affects them. Involve them in the process when you’re cooking or grocery shopping; show them different examples of key food groups. Make it fun to create life-long healthy habits. Check out these fun recipes you can make with elderberry syrup.
  • If daily intake of water is a challenge, infuse it with fruits like berries, limes and cucumbers. Drop a spoonful of Sambucol Elderberry Syrup into water daily for extra antioxidants, vitamins and great tasting immune support.

Most importantly, have regular family meals at home. This creates a constant and comforting ritual. Put phones away and catch up on the day. This is a great way to be a role model for healthy eating too.


Get the kids up and moving! According to CDC guidelines, kids between the ages of 6 and 17 should be getting at least an hour of heart-pumping, aerobic exercise every day, in addition to an hour of bone-strengthening and muscle-strengthening exercises three times a week. Moderate regular exercise may increase white blood cell activity and increase immune cell circulation throughout the body. The best part about family ‘activities’ is that the kids don’t even know it’s a workout. Here are some ‘exercise play’ ideas to build immunity while having fun:

  • Go on a ‘skipping’ walk. Every 15 steps ask them to skip another 15. Skipping is actually a really great brain booster as it engages both the left and right side of the brain. 
  • Do the ‘bear-crawl’ to the bathroom. This high intensity workout is so much fun they won’t even know it's extra good for them too. 
  • Stand up and stretch. When their favorite TV show is on, challenge them to stand up and stretch during the commercials. Join in as well to help relieve some stress you may be carrying too.


Heading back to school in such uncertain times requires practicing new habits (and remembering some old ones).

  • Wash your hands throughout the day.
  • Traditional advice to cover the mouth and nose actually encourages the spread of disease because viruses are easily spread through touch. Sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue. Then wash your hands. 
  • Look out for germ hot spots. Germ hot spots generally include high touch surfaces, such as restaurant menus and shopping cart handles. It’s a good idea to take precautions when you are out and also at home. 
  • The bedtime struggle is real for many parents. Good sleep habits are vital to the health, growth, immunity and development of children. Research has shown that adding as little as 27 extra minutes of sleep per night for school-age kids makes it easier for them to manage their moods and impulses so that they can focus on their schoolwork. Take the time to wind down, turn off electronics two hours before bedtime, and if possible keep bedtime consistent even throughout summer. 

Follow these new guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School aged (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours


“How can I help my child cope with back to school anxiety or stress?” 

Although it is normal for your child to have first-day jitters, creating an open dialog at home is vital to empowering them to face what is ahead. 

Try to avoid giving reassurance. Instead, PROBLEM SOLVE AND ACTION PLAN!

Discuss safety measures in place to keep students and teachers healthy. Remind children about the positives – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers and continue learning new things. Just remember, kids are resilient and strong.  Encourage your child to share his or her fears whenever possible. Some feel most comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention (such as right before bed, or during dinner).

Laugh away! Studies have shown that laughter may actually boost immune system function by increasing antibody-producing cells and help T-cells perform more effectively.

Keep in mind that one size does not fit all when sending your child back to school. Create a nurturing and positive environment while utilizing immunity strengthening tools as mentioned above. This is a great start! 

In the age of COVID-19 new heroes have emerged. Parents have become teachers and teachers have created a whole new way to do their jobs. Schools will rely on support from their local communities and parents as they work to enforce new rules in their classrooms. Stepping into these new crucial roles has made us appreciate teachers so much more, and going back to school is a vital and welcoming treat. With a strong immunity, active mind and a healthy body, it is possible to take on the fall session confidently and actually celebrate the back-to-school milestone.  

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