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Review health literacy with kids so they can make good decisions

Kids will be learning so much as they head back to school. And while they’ll be focused on academic subjects like math, science and reading, it’s also important for them to become more health literate. Understanding information about their health will help them be able to take care of themselves as they grow and make good health decisions.

To be health literate, a person must:

1. Know where to get accurate health information.

Help kids understand some of the trusted sources for health information, including doctors, nurses, parents and teachers. Some sources, like friends or TV shows, while well-meaning can give incorrect information. Teach kids to ask, “How does this person or source know about health?” “Who is the author?” and “Is the information provided complete and current?”

2. Understand the health information.

In addition to having a good source with correct information, kids need to understand what that source is saying. If it’s not clear what is meant by healthy food or getting enough exercise, it is hard to know what to do next. It’s not surprising that health information is sometimes confusing for kids when it can be confusing even for grown-ups. Health and the body are complicated scientific subjects.

3. Encourage your kids to ask questions.

If they have questions or concerns about their health, they should not be afraid to talk to trusted sources. Before their next doctor visit, ask your kids if they have questions related to their health and wellness. Write them down and prompt your kids to make sure their questions are answered before the end of the visit. Asking questions is the key to understanding and a great way for kids to take responsibility for their health.

4. Apply the information to make good decisions.

Most kids are interested in learning about health. They need to know that what they do as kids can affect how healthy they will be as adults. For instance, just by eating a healthy diet and being active, kids can help maintain a healthy weight. Wearing a helmet when riding a bike or any wheeled vehicle also is a smart health decision. The more kids learn about health and can start taking these steps on their own, the healthier they can be. One of the best ways to teach your children the importance of health and wellness is to model it yourself.