As kids are heading back to school, it’s still the heat of summer in most of the country. Keeping up your sun safety routine should be at the top of your back-to-school checklist!
Not only is it important to keep kids skin protected from the sun during these end-of-summer hot months, it’s crucial to make sure they are protected year-round while at school. But many schools don’t allow children to bring sunscreen to school or allow teachers to help apply without a doctor’s prescription, so keeping their skin protected while at school can be a challenge.
Here are a few tips to help you ensure your children stay sun safe while on the playground or doing after-school outdoor sports or activities.
Make sunscreen a part of your morning routine
Getting kids ready and out the door for school in the morning is already a hectic time, but applying sunscreen still needs to be incorporated into your routine. Apply a sunscreen of at least SPF30 or more in the morning to your child’s skin before leaving for school.
Keep sunscreen where you will be easily reminded to apply it to your younger children when getting them ready for school – whether that be the bathroom, bedroom or by the front door, keep a bottle handy so you can help them apply to their face and body. Older kids can take responsibility to apply sunscreen themselves – just make sure they make it a part of their morning routine as well. This way, they have on one coat of sunscreen that will protect them for recess, P.E. or other outdoor activities at school.
Put a travel size bottle in your child’s backpack
If your school allows, make sure your kids have a travel size or small bottle of sunscreen in their backpack to reapply before they go to any outdoor sports activities after school. All schools have different policies about bringing sunscreen to school, so be sure to check with your particular school to see if it’s allowed. Sunscreens are considered OTC drugs so many schools won’t permit children to bring it or allow teachers to apply it to students’ skin, although many schools around the country are slowly changing these rules.
Other tips for practicing sun safety throughout the school year:
- Encourage your kids to seek shade during recess and other time outdoors whenever possible.
- Dress kids in protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants, darker colors and clothing with UV protection when possible. Many clothing manufacturers now offer stylish UPF-clothes that offer all-day protection without the need to reapply.
- Encourage kids to wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors. While baseball caps are very popular with kids and do a great job of protecting the scalp, they don’t protect the cheeks, ears and neck. If they prefer a baseball cap, be sure to apply sunscreen to the cheeks, ears and neck before school.
- Be a good sun safety role model yourself. Make sure you and your spouse practice year-round skin protection so your kids understand the importance.
- Get involved! As more schools throughout the country begin to acknowledge their role in protecting children from harmful UV radiation, you can do your part by speaking up at parent-teacher or PTA meetings to encourage teachers and administration to help kids protect their skin while they’re at school. Many of the schools that have revised their policies about allowing sunscreen at school have done so after groups of concerned parents worked together and created petitions and other movements to get these rules changed.