Bite-sized back to school tips

Wednesday 12 January, 2011

The first day of school is just around the corner so it's time to put away the bathers, pack up the beach towels and turn attention to the new school year. With hundreds of thousands of children across the country heading back to school in the next few weeks, it's a good time to prepare for a healthy and smooth start.

That's why SunSmart and Kids - 'Go for your life' have joined forces to come up with some useful back to school tips to ensure a healthy, happy new school year.

Packing the school bag

After holidays it can be easy to forget the school routine, so children may need to be reminded about how to use sun protection. Make sure they have a supply of SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen in their school bag. Most people don't apply enough sunscreen, so be generous and take children step-by-step through applying sunscreen on their exposed skin. Remind children to reapply every time they head outside.

Top tip: Pop the sunscreen in their cooler bag so it can be a nice cool application on a hot day! If you find it difficult to encourage your child to use sunscreen try a spray-on sunscreen or a gel for something new.

Put in a large bottle of water to make sure that your children stay hydrated during lesson time. Most schools will allow children to keep their water bottles on their desk and will encourage them to drink throughout the school day.

Top tip: To keep the water cool on a hot day stick the water bottle in the freezer the night before. This way the water defrosts gradually and the water will stay icy-cool for longer.

Healthy food ideas for your child's lunchbox

Plant fruit and veg in your kids lunchbox. Try vegetable sticks, such as carrot, celery, corn, snow peas and cucumber, with dips. Put in some fruit - either fresh or tinned fruit in natural juice.

Top tip: Vegetable crisps or chips are best left out of lunchboxes, as they're high in fat and salt even when baked. Also avoid fruit bars and ‘straps' as they're high in sugar, low in fibre and they stick to children's teeth causing tooth decay.

Don't think that all treats are necessarily bad, you can make healthy snacks and there are a few products on the market that are high in fibre and low in sugar. Have a look at the Choice food website for some ideas.

Top tip: Try making your own healthy muffins and cakes - include lots of fruit and vegetables such as sultanas, carrots, banana and pumpkin.

Ensure your school uniform is SunSmart

Clothing can offer great protection against harmful UV radiation. Look for uniforms that have a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 30 or more. Densely woven clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible offers the best protection.

Top Tip: Look for uniforms that have a UPF rating- the highest protection is 50+ and styles that are loose fitting to keep children cool.

Encourage children to slap on a hat if they are outdoors during the day. Look for a hat such as a wide brim, legionnaire or bucket style hat for best protection of the face, neck and ears. Baseball caps don't provide enough protection.

Top tip: For safe play, try a hat with a safety snap or one that adjusts at the crown.

If your child's school allows sunglasses, make sure they are a wrap-around style, labelled Australian Standard 1067 that cover as much of the eye area as possible.

Top tip: You can also get some eye protection by using a hat and shade.

Check the SunSmart UV Alert

Get into the habit of checking the SunSmart UV Alert every day. The UV Alert lets you know when sun protection is required making it easier than ever for you to ensure that your kids are SunSmarter this school year. Whenever the UV level is three and above, protect your children using a combination of the following five steps. Never rely on just one.

  1. Slip on some sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen - make sure it is broad spectrum and water resistant.
  3. Slap on a hat - that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards.

The SunSmart UV Alert is available at, in the weather section of daily newspapers and on the Bureau of Meteorology website. Download the free SunSmart application for iPhones at the iTunes App Store.