Your children spend more time in school than with you, during term time, at least while they’re awake. On its part the school is meant to provide a safe ‘n’ healthy environment for learning. On your part you have the right and responsibility to be involved in the school and its PTA, as a concerned parent. Here’s a clutch of things that you need to watch out for and remedy.
These common ailments can be picked up by your kids in school and spread like wild fire. Coughs ‘n’ cold The best way to stave off a runny nose or itchy throat is to insist on hand washing. Try steam inhalation and nose drops on your doctor’s prescription to unblock a stuffy nose. Offer plenty of liquids, esp chicken or onion soup with a pinch of pepper and ginger, and hot milk with turmeric and juice of tulsi leaves with honey to dry up secretions. Do not self prescribe antibiotics and antihistamines which can be harmful. Hand, foot ‘n’ mouth disease This is a contagious viral illness that affects the under fours and is characterized by itchy rashes on hands and legs (which may look like chicken pox or insect bites), blisters in mouth and trouble in swallowing and fever. It spreads through contact with the mucus, saliva or faeces of an infected child. The fever and other symptoms are treated with appropriate drugs and recovery occurs within 5 to 7 days, during which there should be no interaction with other small fry. Impetigo This bacterial infection targets the buttocks and around the mouth. The rashes look like moist golden crusts, with a spot of redness under each patch, specially if the crust is picked off. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic cream for about a week, and your child needs to stay away from school until there is no more crusting or blistery. An oral antibiotic may be prescribed for fever or swollen lymph glands. Change clothes frequently and keep towels and bed clothes separate. Lice Inspect your child’s hair closely if she is tormented by an itchy scalp. Look out for nits and lice, which leap from head to head. Yes, even boys get them too. You need a fine toothed comb to get them out of the hair, after applying a lotion like Licel or Mediker shampoo. Reapply seven days later which is the rough life cycle of the egg. Slapped cheek syndrome gets its name from a distinctive red rash on the cheeks. Your child may even have a runny nose, fever and a headache. This viral infection spreads early, but before the symptoms appear. There’s no specific treatment except fluids and pain relief for headaches. They don’t really need the stay away from school, but should avoid contact with pregnant women. Thread worm Tiny parasitic worms in the bowels migrate to the anus in the night, lay their eggs and cause irritation. Tell tale signs are a very itchy bottom. It’s passed from scratching down there, touching the mouth, biting fingernails, cooking food, through bedding. All the members of the family, including domestic help, need to be treated with a single dose of mebendazole (syrup or tablets) with a repeat dose after 2 weeks. Tummy upset It can last 24 hours or longer and in rare cases can lead to a child being hospitalized if dehydration is severe and the urine is dark and infrequent. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps caused by a virus. The spread is very fast in a class. Children need time off and can
go back in 48 hours after symptoms subside. Administer oral rehydration: 1 level tsp of salt, 8 level tsps sugar dissolved in one litre of boiled and cooled water. Offer ½ to 1 cup for each watery stool.
It can involve teasing, taunting, pushing, pummeling, beating, grabbing things, excluding, isolation and can make school a place to fear. If it affects your child, you have to take action. Your child may suffer anguish whether one child yells “Caroline, Caroline dirty swine” or the whole class won’t speak to her; whether one child pulled his hair or a group beats him up. Bullying is always a big deal, and sadly sometimes your child won’t even tell you because of embarrassment. Watch out for these signs: torn damaged clothes or books cuts, bruises, scalds isolation from classmates afraid of going to school and/or on the school bus performs badly in school is teary, depressed and loses appetite has headaches and stomach aches rushes to the bathroom on return, and is afraid to use the school loo bullies smaller children or hits animals For starters don’t dismiss his fears with a“Don’t be a scaredy cat, beat him back.” You need to discuss with your child how to deal with it before it goes too far. Studies suggest 75% children are bullied because of appearance. See that your child is well groomed before school, washed, combed and tidy with neat nails. Change to interesting looking spectacles. Help lose weight, if too chubby, and put on weight if too skinny. Teach your child to look confident, make eye contact and walk away. Help get a buddy, so that your child is not alone. Invite other children over to play, and arrange activities in other groups. Raise self esteem with positive strokes. If all else fails you need to talk to the school.
Granted that school buses are a boon for busy parents and a great many schools make bussing compulsory. But this doesn’t mean that you can rest easy, presuming that your children are safe. Romir (7) peppers his dinner table chatter with ugly expletives. His horrified parents who make sure that they keep it “clean” at home, ask “where is this coming from?” Romir replies “All the big boys in the bus talk like this. I wanna be just like them!” Akshata comes home with scratched arms for refusing to share her cookies. Somehow rules that apply in classroom do not hold good in the school bus. All the pent up energy of the day is let loose. When you pass a school bus you will hear raucous yelling. On your part check that the bus company is reputed, keeps its buses road worthy. the vehicle is fitted with CCTVs to monitor behavior. the younger children sit in front, and the older ones at the back. it has student monitors to maintain discipline and watch the bus attendants. there are female wardens, if the bus is carrying girl children. your younger child is handed over to a known person with an ID card. inform the school of any misbehavior on the part of the students or attendants. explain to your child that nobody – teacher, bus attendant, student – can touch any part of the body that is covered by a swim suit.
Ayush (12) complained of a chronic backache. After a series of tests, the culprit was IDed. The school bag! ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) found that 79% of our kids between 5 and 12, carry more than 35% of their weight on their back. This despite the Children’s School Bag Act of 2006, that provisioned students should not carry more than 10% of their body weight and that nursery/ KG students should have no bags at all and that schools should provide lockers. Schools violating these laws can face a penalty of upto Rs.3 lakhs and be derecognized. Needless to say this hasn’t happened as yet. Mumbai and Delhi have the dubious distinction of topping the list of overweight school bags. In Mumbai 58% of kids below 10 have
mild back pain which can become chronic and lead to permanent hunching. 86% carry bags through the day, toting atleast 21 books. There is an extra bag containing kits for cricket, roller skating, swimming, PE clothes, art kit and such. Ali Irani, Consultant Physiotherapist and Health & Nutrition panelist says that drooping shoulders, backaches, bad posture, tired muscles, compressed spinal cord, spinal problems, scoliosis, poor chest expansion, and decreased lung capacity can all be blamed on a heavy school bag. He suggests that a school bag should not be more than 10% of your child’s body weight. a backpack is preferable as it puts less strain on growing spines. padded waist straps transfer weight from the lower back to the hips. The pack should not be carried on only one shoulder, but the load must be balanced and aligned with the child’s natural axis. your child should practice yoga at home. Tadasana, for e.g., stretches the whole spine.
A study of 3581 school kids conducted by the Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute, Navi Mumbai, turned up that 52% were not even aware that they had decreased vision. 68% of children with poor vision did not wear spectacles regularly. 24% of these kids did not wear the prescribed glasses at all because they could not play games, were teased by others, felt that they looked ugly wearing them. 17% broke their glasses and were frightened to tell their parents. Did you know that the first eleven years in the life of a child are the most vital where eyes are concerned? That if left uncorrected vision problems can have lasting consequences? What’s more, kids who do not wear glasses when they need them develop low self esteem, fare badly in school because they cannot see the blackboard, or have difficulty in writing. Your child’s eyes should be checked at 6 weeks, 3 years, between 8 and 9, between 14 and 16. Encourage eye friendly vitamin A rich foods such as carrots, green leafy veggies, drumstick, beetroot, mango, papaya.
Your daughter’s bestie is mean, disruptive in class, plays hot ‘n’ cold with her, pokes fun at her. When Chunky comes over he jumps on the sofa until it wobbles, opens the refrigerator and helps himself to food, swears like a trooper. But your son adores him. And suddenly, your angelic little moppet changes track to mimic the chosen company. Like every parent, you want your child to be surrounded by good influences and right attitudes. You don’t want him to hang out with the wrong crowd or somebody who will lead her off your beaten path. Look how she has stopped reading and how he won’t help around the house. But whoa, go slow. Banning a pal will make them sneaky, rebellious, feel that the relationship is more exciting or that you don’t “get it”. Instead List pros and cons of friendship and talk about the meaning of friendship without naming names. Build up other relationships. Invite other children over. Enroll your child in classes such as swimming, sports, singing where he can find people with common interests. Discuss bad behavior – again no names. Seek help from the child’s teachers, but be prepared that you may hear something nasty about your own child. Try to get to know the other child’s family. And do remember there’ll always be friends that you don’t like ••• ••• the moppet in nursery school who eats / takes your child’s goodies. ••• the boy who copies all your child’s homework. ••• the team who plays truant and smokes. But somehow these same children show appreciation, loyalty and help in a crisis. So unless there’s danger involved let them pick their own friends. They’ll soon learn if they’re bad enough, depending on the values that they’ve grown up with.
REPEATING A CLASS
When Amish had to repeat Std.VII he was filled with anguish. He remembers: “To go to class with my juniors and to watch my classmates graduate into long trousers was deflating, I didn’t want to go back to school.” He was seated with two other repeaters in the back row. And worse: “The teachers sarcastically pointed us out to the others, admonishing them not to be like us.” When a child fails there is the humiliation of losing his old friends, the anxiety of fitting into a new set, the pressure of proving to his parents and teachers that he’s not a loser. According to the Right to Education Act no child is allowed to be kept back until Std. IX, yet some schools do it, citing their own reasons. You need to be gentle with your child. Don’t taunt or flaunt your own blemishless academic record. discover why she was kept back, by talking to the teachers without being defensive. identify subjects which were the bug-a-boos and offer help in them. help him make new friends by inviting them over.