I home educated my daughter so I never got to experience back-to-school until she attended the last year of primary (elementary) school and that was a huge learning experience for me too. When we home schooled we had a back to school event locally which meant we all celebrated such as going for a picnic and no longer were our beaches or parks crowded so it was such an enjoyable moment to have more free space. 🙂
In some countries children are already going back to school in August, with the holidays starting in June (like in Canada). Here in the UK we break up for the summer at the end of July and go back in the first week of September. For many parents it’s a feeling of dread and relief. Going back to school is usually a little expensive as often the summer holidays resulted in a growth spurt. Often we need to buy new uniform, new shoes and stationery. When my daughter first entered the school system that’s when I first found out the other downside of the first term with health. This is often when outbreaks of headlice, stomach upsets, colds and ‘flu start to break out. I’ve had many conversations with parents about the problems they encounter when their child goes back to school and certainly there is a lot that can be done from a natural wellbeing perspective.
With headlice the best way is to set a weekly check on hair and scalp. I used Sunday evening as the time to check through as prevention and early stages are best. Look through hair and if you find anything then use these protocols here from the NHS (although the only time we had them I used organic virgin coconut oil and some rosemary and tea tree essential oil). My own protocol was based on researching their life cycle and basically involved sticking paper towel around the neck so I could see any that dropped, slathering on coconut oil, combing through with a big comb (so hair doesn’t get pulled) and then going through with a nit comb. Wash bedding and toys. I repeated the coconut oil every couple of days for a week and then a week later rechecked and did the same with another follow up a couple of days later to catch any stragglers who hatched at a different time.
From a natural health perspective and prevention I found tying hair back beneficial and told my daughter don’t share hair ties nor hats/clothes (the dressing up box in Early Years is often a source) and be aware not to let other children lean in on you. I also used to regularly treat her and my long hair to an Indian Head Massage with coconut oil which nourished our hair and was a good way for us to relax. We avoided them in primary school thankfully but there were a few children who always seemed to have them that drove other families potty as their children would always catch them from the few that never seemed to treat. A tip I got from a friend with 4 children that helped them was to use Melaleuca (tea tree) oil in a hair spray. It does work as headlice don’t seem to like that nor do they like neem oil. The aforementioned coconut oil is also a really good conditioner. It’s nice to have a regular routine with your children of helping them to feel calm whilst massaging it through their hair and combing through.
Colds and ‘flu are myriad so it’s not easy to avoid them and in fact it’s good to have your child’s immune system getting a workout. That said you can boost it by eating well and where there may be nutrition gaps using supplements. Vitamin D is now considered a hormone responsible for lots of processes in the body. As sunlight levels drop there is a definite correlation between that and upper respiratory tract issues and scientists have worked out why – yes, Vitamin D. Vitamin C is essential too. With school lunches I find there isn’t enough nutrients in the average menu and when I was at school we had two quarter hour breaks plus a 1-hour lunch. Now many children end up with only 1 short break and a half hour lunch which means their digestion is compromised and often the micronutrients are not present. Although I do my best to ensure my daughter eats well outside school, I find that a good multivitamin/mineral plus EFA oils to be very helpful in supporting our immune system. I like support from food and supplements that support the body to reduce the time of illness and lessens symptoms. I use a range that I can hook you up to if you would like and they taste nice, are derived from wholefoods and do not have artificial flavourings nor colourings nor preservatives. The other benefit is research shows how Omega 3s and vitamins and minerals support cognitive development and brain growth. Being able to concentrate in school is not always easy for many children.
I also find that diffusing certain essential oils and using them in cleansing helps greatly. On Guard (developed by independent consultant scientist Dr Robert Pappas) is an amazing combination that helps support your immune system. It has a winter scent as it includes Cinnamon, Clove and Wild Orange (citrus sinensis). You can diffuse it or make your own hand cleaning gel or clean with the On Guard cleaning concentrate. You can also suck on the throat drops.
With stomach upsets, I always remember the encounter we had when our whole area went down with Noro virus and the school she attended ended up almost closing for a week as even the staff had it. Although good hygiene helps to combat Noro it’s not always easy to evade when in close proximity to other children. However, afterwards you can support your child (and no doubt it will have affected everyone in the family) by taking probiotic food after such as a live yoghurt, raw sauerkraut and also building back up with vitamins and minerals. I also find some essential oils blends like DigestZen to be very useful. It can be used topically, diluted and then massaged clockwise into the belly area, gently, and also I sometimes do take 1 drop with a small teaspoon of coconut oil or milk if I am feeling nauseous. I also find it helpful to sniff ginger or eat a piece too.
For emotional support then a blend like Balance is excellent. It contains Spruce and Ho Leaf from trees (deep roots), Frankincense (wisdom) and Blue Tansy and Blue Chamomile (blue being throat chakra, to speak our truth but calmly). It was also developed by Dr Robert Pappas and I love this blend. I dilute it (usually for children I would say dilute to 1% which means 1 drop per 5 ml of carrier oil although it is already prediluted so I use 2 drops per 5ml) when I apply it topically.
Elizabeth is a complementary therapist and coach, mother to one teenager (and one baby who returned to the stars) and one dog. She homebirthed, home educated, and breastfed. She lives in the UK, loves essential oils, nature, cooking and supporting people to lead more holistic lives.
If you would like to receive some essential oil samples please use my contact page at my websites and we can figure together which ones would best serve you.