5 Ways to Prepare for School in a Pandemic

5 Ways to Prepare for School in a Pandemic

You might wonder, what does optometry have to do with K-12 learning? Experts say that about 80% of what a student learns is presented visually. This makes eye health very important for students. Optometrists are also part of a multi-disciplinary team of health-care practitioners that contribute to diagnosing learning difficulties when challenges present in school.

Preparing for the 2020-2021 school year in Colorado should include planning and preventative measures in the five areas listed below. By considering these areas, families can build a healthy foundation for learning while avoiding difficulties.

1. Assess Your Student’s Vision & Eye Health

 It’s highly recommended that each student gets a comprehensive eye exam, every year. It’s even more important this year as children are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, countless lifestyle changes and more screen time than ever. This can be a recipe for vision changes that can impact learning if they aren’t addressed.

A comprehensive eye exam gives the patient and doctor a look at overall physical health in addition to eye health. Optometrists are often able to diagnose general health and eye health conditions before symptoms occur. This makes early intervention and treatment possible before vision and learning is heavily impacted.

Visual Skills Essential for K-12 Learning:
During a comprehensive eye exam an optometrist is assessing your student’s visual skills in the below areas. These areas are essential for learning and if the eyes are not functioning well in these areas learning is often impacted negatively.

If your child is already experiencing learning difficulties and has one or more of the below listed symptoms, they may have a learning-related vision problem. It’s recommended that the child has comprehensive evaluation by an optometrist who specializes in children’s vision and learning-related vision problems.

Symptoms of Learning-related Vision Problems*:

*Symptoms list created by Think About Your Eyes, April 2017

2. Create a Family Stress Management Plan

Eye twitching, blurry vision, headaches, watery eyes or dry eyes can all be caused by stress. In fact, stress can cause vision issues and vision issues can cause stress. Don’t get caught in this cycle!

This year, there are a lot of new stressors for students beyond learning and homework. Having a stress management plan for each person in the home will help everyone stay happy, healthy, learning, and working.

It’s a good idea to start talking to your student about what their school day will look like and prepare them for the things that are changing.

Reflecting on the questions and statements below can help you get your family stress management plan in place. You can then build a daily schedule and house rules around each family member that helps find success in their day.

3. Assure Your Student is Eating Well

The food we eat can impact how we feel emotionally and physically. Food also impacts our eye health. Children’s eating habits can change as they experience stress and as daily schedules change. When some people experience stress they eat less and others eat more. What is healthy and effective for your student?

Making sure your child is eating enough breakfast, lunch, and dinner is helpful. Or maybe they aren’t into full meals right now so making sure they are grazing throughout the day will help keep blood sugar balanced, stress low, and it also can mean less tantrums or moodiness.

10 Nutrient Dense Foods to keep eyes healthy and brains learning:

4. Determine How Much Exercise Your Student Needs

Exercise increases blood flow to the optic nerve and retina, reduces stress, improves alertness, motivation, attention and it even helps us retain information.

We all know that when schedules change one of the first things to cease is healthy exercise. Whether attending school in-person or online how will your child get the exercise they need to thrive? How can you use exercise as a tool during the school year? Some families have students jump on a mini-trampoline or do jumping jacks before tackling homework or a school lesson. Others use it as a motivational reward. What works for your student? Tips for getting kids to exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following activity levels for:

5. Address Sleep Difficulties

Dark circles around their eyes, moodiness, fatigue, difficulty learning, forgetfulness, and lack of motivation are all common signs of poor sleep. Poor sleep is not conducive to a successful learning environment and it can also strain family relationships. It’s a good idea to address everyone’s sleep issues in the household for optimal learning, working, playing and relating.

Sleep is clearly important for everyone and your student is no exception. It’s also very common for sleep to be impacted by stress and anxiety. Improving sleep could be as simple as better sleep hygiene, a new pillow, reducing stress or eliminating screen time before bed. However, sometimes there’s an actual health issue at play. If sleep doesn’t get better with common sense adjustments and is impacting daily life (like school) it’s time to consult a doctor.

During a comprehensive eye exam an optometrist may spot signs of sleep issues including sleep apnea or other health conditions that are associated with sleep difficulties like pediatric myopia, diabetes, glaucoma, or an autoimmune disease.

The CDC recommends the following sleep quantity for:

Tips to Improve Sleep:

Office Admin

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