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Tips for a healthy start to high school

Transitioning from primary school to high school can be a big change. Here are some tips to stay healthy and energetic whether starting year 7 or year 12!

Encourage your child to keep healthy during high school by sharing these 8 useful tips:

  • 1. Get moving – being active helps to manage stress

  • 2. Eat breakfast every day – eating breakfast helps concentration levels and boosts energy

  • 3. Get vaccinated – it’s a normal part of school to get vaccinations!

  • 4. Drink water throughout the day – carry a water bottle with you and fill it up from the school bubblers and taps

  • 5. Eat well throughout the day to sustain energy and concentration for academic achievement

  • 6. Make smart choices – walk away when something is not a smart choice (e.g. say no to vaping/smoking, bullying, skipping school)

  • 7. Stay clean and fresh – look after personal hygiene

  • 8. Get to bed – sleep will keep boost mood, energy levels and concentration throughout the school day

Find more information and useful tips in the Kick start high school resource in English.


Healthy eating

Young people need to eat a wide variety of healthy food from the five food groups; fruit, vegetables, cereals and grains, dairy and protein. Eating food from the five food groups will ensure your child will get the nutrition they need for health, growth and development.

Find out more information on the five food groups in English, and in Chinese.

Changes to eating habits with puberty

Children and young people often feel hungrier and eat more as they begin puberty and often their bodies go through a major growth spurt. Extra food provides extra energy and nutrients to support your child’s growth and development during this time. Your child’s eating habits and taste might change and fatty and sugary foods may be more commonly chosen over fruit and vegetables.

To encourage your child to continue to eat well during this time, try:

  • • Role modelling eating healthy food in front of your child – as this is important to influence healthy choices

  • • Create a healthy environment around food (e.g. ask your child to cook one night a week or help with food shopping)


Eat breakfast every day

A healthy breakfast provides energy to start the day, and helps concentration levels. To help encourage your child to eat a healthy breakfast:

  • • Make breakfast a priority each morning

  • • Try some weet-bix or wholegrain toast, low sugar soya milk, oatmeal congee, vegetable and pork steamed bun, mushroom and chicken soup noodle, corn and egg sandwich

  • • On the go? Have a glass of plain milk and grab a banana

  • • Remember – energy drinks aren’t breakfast

Find more tips on how to get your child to eat breakfast in the Eating Breakfast fact sheet in English, and in Chinese.

Choose water as a drink

Young people should drink 8 – 10 cups of water a day. Water is the best choice of drink. Tap water in Sydney is safe to drink and free.

Water is important for your child’s healthy growth and development, with many benefits including:

  • • Protects tissues and organs

  • • Helps the body absorb nutrients

  • • Flushes out waste products

  • • Regulates body temperature

  • • Fluoride in tap water protects teeth from decay

High consumption of sugary drinks can lead to weight gain, obesity and contribute to diabetes and heart disease. To help your child to choose healthy drinks encourage them to:

  • • Avoid sugary and energy (caffeinated drinks) like: soft drink, juices, cordial, sports drinks and caffeinated energy drinks

  • • Add cucumber or mint into water for healthy flavouring to replace sugary drinks

Find more tips in the Choose Water as a Drink fact sheet in English and in Chinese.


Physical activity

Being active is important for young people to grow, stay healthy and set good habits for life. Encouraging your child to be active every day has many social, emotional, intellectual and health benefits, including:

  • • A chance to have fun with friends and family

  • • Reduced antisocial behaviour

  • • Stronger cooperation and teamwork skills

  • • Better self-esteem and confidence

  • • Lower anxiety and stress

  • • Better concentration

  • • Healthy growth and development

  • • Strong muscles and bones

  • • Improved fitness, including coordination and movement skills

  • • Lower risk of disease

  • • Lower risk of unhealthy weight gain

How much physical activity should young people do?

  • • At least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, each day.

  • • As part of this 60 minutes, muscle and bone strengthening activities should be included 3 days a week.

Moderate to vigorous activities are activities that make you huff and puff, make your heart beat faster and sweat is seen on your skin. For example: football, basketball, running, scooter/bike riding, dancing, swimming and netball.

Muscle and bone strengthening activities are important for your child’s growth and development, keeping bones and muscles strong and healthy. For example: running, climbing, push ups, sit ups, lifting weights, swinging on monkey bars and body weight squats.

Find more tips to help your child to get active see the Get Active Each Day fact sheet in English, and in Chinese.


Reducing screen time

Children and young people should have no more than 2 hours per day of screen time. .

Screen time includes any time spent on a device with a screen that is being used for recreational purposes (e.g. phone, tablet, laptop, gaming device). This does not include screen time needed for school work. Find more tips in the Turn Off the Screens fact sheet in English, and in Chinese.

How to help your child stay safe online:

  • • Be engaged, open and supportive

  • • Keep communication lines open

  • • If you notice a change in behaviour or mood, talk to your child and seek further support from a GP (doctor), psychologist or school counsellor

  • • Set age-appropriate rules for devices and online access

  • • Know the devices your child uses and set them up for privacy and online safety

Read more information on how to stay safe online in English, and in Chinese.

Improving sleep

Sleep is essential for growth, development and concentration

  • • Children aged 5 to 13 years should get 9 to 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep

  • • Young people aged 14 to 17 years get 8 to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep

It is important to encourage your child to build healthy sleep patterns, it is recommended to:

  • • Have a consistent bedtime and wake up time

  • • Avoid screens 1 hour before sleep

  • • Keep screens out of the bedroom

Find out more information on sleep strategies in English, and in Chinese.

Looking after mental health and wellbeing

Good mental health and wellbeing is important for healthy, growing young people. Good mental health allows your child to:

  • • Live life in a meaningful way

  • • Make it easier to overcome challenges and changes

  • • Study, work and learn

  • • Be connected to others, including friends and family

  • • Be involved in activities

There are many ways to nurture your child’s mental health and wellbeing, including:

  • • Get informed – take time to understand what the young person is going through

  • • Eat well – a balanced diet helps body and brain function

  • • Sleep well – good sleep increases energy, focus and motivation

  • • Be active – physical activity can relieve stress and frustration

  • • Build strategies – develop positive coping strategies

  • • Reduce harmful effects of alcohol and drug use – reducing use improves health and wellbeing

  • • Set realistic goals – achieving realistic goals is a great way to improve wellness

  • • Seek help from a GP (doctor) or mental health professional

Read more information and tips for a healthy headspace in English, and in Chinese.


What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are devices that deliver an aerosol by heating a solution that users breathe in. The aerosol is commonly referred to as ‘vapour’. Using an e-cigarette is commonly known as ‘vaping’.

E-cigarettes are battery operated and may look like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens or memory sticks.

The liquids used in e-cigarettes:

  • • May contain a range of toxic chemicals including those that add flavour

  • • Sometimes contain nicotine even if labelled as ‘nicotine free’

Are e-cigarettes safe?

No. Even though scientists are still learning about e-cigarettes, they do not consider them safe.

Hazardous substances have been found in e-cigarette liquids and in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes, including these known cancer-causing agents:

  • • Formaldehyde

  • • Acetaldehyde

  • • Acrolein

Some chemicals in e-cigarette aerosols can also cause DNA damage.

E-cigarettes do not produce the tar produced by conventional cigarettes which is the main cause of lung cancer. However, many scientists are concerned that using e-cigarettes could increase risk of lung disease, heart disease and cancer.


Free programs

Active Kids Vouchers

The Active Kids vouchers are available to all NSW school-aged children and young people. Two $100 vouchers are provided free from the NSW Government to be used towards sport and physical activity. Find out more about the vouchers and how to claim them in English, and in Chinese.

Think, Eat and Move!

Think, Eat and Move is an eight-week healthy lifestyle program for young people aged 13 to 17.

The program is free for young people in the Central and Eastern Sydney area and includes online content, videos and activities, as well as regular phone coaching sessions with a health professional.

You can learn more about the program and sign up here –, or you can text: 0409 745 645.

Get healthy Service

The Get Healthy Service is open to all NSW residents aged 16 years and over. You will get your own university qualified health coach who speaks Cantonese or Mandarin. Your health coach can help you make healthy lifestyle changes.

Your health coach could help you to:

  • • Eat healthily

  • • Get active

  • • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • • Reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes

  • • Gain or maintain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy

  • • Reduce alcohol intake

You can register and find out more information by visiting the Get Healthy Service website in English, Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese, or call 1300 806 258.


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