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Healthy Habits

November 5th, 2021 by Becca Tellinghuisen

Dear Trinitas Families,

We’ve compiled a list of “best practices” or “healthy habits” that we have observed contribute significantly to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and growth of our students (and parents too). Each family, and each person within a family, has strengths and weaknesses; none of us can practice all of these well all of the time. We provide this list as an opportunity to pause and intentionally examine life at home and focus on the most needed categories. We recognize that external pressures can cause us to neglect these important things. Sometimes making the effort to establish or re-establish them is the best strategy for handling those pressures.

Sleep
Make it a priority. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides these guidelines:
Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
Adults: 7-9 hours

Family Meals
Strive for daily (or nearly daily) dinners together (even just 15 minutes); adjust time as needed so everyone can be there. Breakfasts together are a good way to start the day (they can take as little as 5 minutes).

Family Devotions
Make time daily for Scripture, prayer, discussion, and/or song (even just 5-10 minutes).

Screen Time (not including homework)
Screens have a big impact on our lives. AAP guidelines:
No screen time at all for children until 18 to 24 months (except for video chatting)
Ages 2-5: an hour or less/day
At Trinitas, we recommend an hour or less/day for children ages 5 and up, as well as days with no screen time. Occasional movies (preferably shared with others) are an exception.
Turn screens off at dinner, during family and friend outings (even car rides), and at least 60 minutes before bed.

Screen Content
Philippians 4:8 is a good guide. Is the material uplifting? And, does it leave you energized or drained?

Exercise
Exercise is important for both physical and mental health. AAP and CDC guidelines:
Ages 3-5 years: at least 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day (approximately 15 minutes of every hour while awake)
Ages 6-17: 60 minutes/day, including vigorous-intensity, muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least three days/week
Adults: at least 150 minutes/week, including moderate and vigorous-intensity, muscle- and bone-strengthening activities; some exercise is better than none–try to move more and sit less

Chores
Regular chores are important for teaching executive function skills, independence, responsibility, and consideration of and service to others.

Homework
Have a consistent time and place, free of distractions, to do homework. Schedule rejuvenating breaks.

Unstructured Playtime/Downtime
Daily unstructured playtime or downtime indoors and/or outdoors (without screens) is important for the development of imagination and problem-solving skills and simply to re-charge.

Reading Time
Make time for reading alone and/or together; for young children, this should be daily. Many families have found that reading together can be an enjoyable practice even through the teen years.

Family and Friend Time
Schedule regular time for outings and activities, including games, to share together as a family and with friends. They’re great ways to form warm family bonds and to cultivate the virtue of hospitality.

Discipline
Consistency and follow-through are essential, as is combining high standards with warmth. It’s also good to use both positive and negative reinforcement (“carrots” and “sticks”). As kids grow, “Keep Calm and Talk On”. Keep communication open and help your child process situations, perceptions, and emotions, and work together toward appropriate responses and habits.