Have an afternoon of food-tasting.
Gather your family together to research at least 3-5 varieties of one type of food (i.e., fruit, vegetable, or nut). Talk about the unique qualities of the food and a little about its history (i.e., when it was discovered or what it is known for). Lead the family in a taste test of the different varieties of the food, or prepare the food several different ways and have everyone choose their favorite. For example, an apple could be prepared as apple snack wedges, applesauce, apple cider, and baked apples. You could also present similar types of vegetables, such as collard greens, spinach, kale, and mustard greens. Talk about differences in their taste. Pick fall favorites, or be adventurous and try new things.
Be active outdoors and indoors.
Make fall yard work fun. Have kids come up with different ways to pick up leaves or pine cones (i.e., squatting, bending, leaning, stretching, or balancing on one foot). Sing, dance, and explore. Provide kids with rakes and other tools that are kid-sized for comfort and safety. For indoor fun, play board games and computer games that encourage physical activity. Have a song-and-dance talent show. Draw, color, and explore with health in mind. Remember that children and adolescents should be active for at least one hour a day, and adults should be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and insect repellent to protect you and your family from the sun, mosquitoes, and ticks.
Check out your teen’s job.
A job can be very rewarding for a teen as he/she gains hands-on experience, earns extra income, and learns new skills. However, sometimes what’s required for the job is beyond what a teen can handle. In 2005, 54 youth under age 18 died from work-related injuries. It is estimated that approximately 160,000 youth sustain work-related injuries and illnesses each year. Take an active role in your child’s employment, and know the laws. Be alert for signs of fatigue or stress as your child tries to balance the demands of work, school, home, and extracurricular activities.
Check the safety of toys and other products.
Check to see if any of your family’s toys, jewelry, clothing, appliances, furniture, and other products have been recalled due to lead paint or other potential hazards. As you begin thinking about toys and gifts for upcoming events and holidays, make sure they are age-appropriate. Ensure playground equipment is safe. For fall festivals, events, and Halloween, take steps to keep kids safe and away from potential dangers.
Do as you say.
It’s easy to tell your family what to do. But, it’s even better to show them what to do and how to do it. Start the fall off with healthy habits. Eat healthy, be active, get check-ups, get appropriate vaccinations (including flu), be smoke-free, manage stress, wear seat belts, wash hands, wear helmets, and more. Build healthy relationships. Teach your kids how to avoid and reduce conflicts.
Get involved in school.
When parents and educators work together, safety becomes a lifesaving priority that benefits the entire community. Safety should be on every student’s back-to-school list. Whether it is by car, bus, bike, or foot, the minute a child leaves his or her home, safety becomes a concern. Safety is important at school, both in the classroom and during activities. Make sure your child knows what to do in an emergency.