HALIFAX -- Several weeks ago, schools across the Maritime provinces were closed as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Students are now learning remotely, but many are finding it difficult to stay focused.

Naturopathic doctor Joyce Johnson says there are a few things you can do to make the transition from going to school to studying at home a little easier.

Move and get sunshine in (when you can)

Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, according to Johnson.

“When they were in school they had recess, they could run around for 20 minutes or half an hour, they had Phys Ed class, and then, on top of that, they probably had activities. So now, they don’t have anything apart from what we’re directing to them… If you can aim for that 60 minutes, then you are covering the bases. That’s kind of the bare minimum. Make sure they are moving,” says Johnson.

“The other thing you want to get is some sunshine. I know, sometimes in apartment buildings, depending on your balcony, you’re not really going out very far, but you need to get some sunshine because that vitamin D is so important for you.”

Choose foods that help to improve mental focus

Johnson says children will often snack every 15 minutes and it is important to make sure there are healthy snacks available.

“You want to make sure that that diet is packed with Omega-3. Omega-3 rich foods, if they are not having fatty fish, get it in a supplement form. There are some really great chewables for kids. That helps improve concentration, memory, and focus. Things like blueberries also help improve memory, focus, and learning. Avocados are a really great healthy snack. In my house even my youngest loves making guacamole,” says Johnson.

Get a good sleep and keep a routine

Depending on their age and development stage, Johnson says children will need between nine and 14 hours of sleep per day.

“With nowhere to go and more time on our electronics, it often makes really late nights, especially when you get into the tweens and the teens. That results in a lack of quality sleep… I think that it’s really important to establish a sleep routine.”

Be realistic

Children have been affected mentally and emotionally by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Johnson says we need to cut them a little bit of slack.

“Isolation can be a stressor for people. Exercise and sleep can help to alleviate the stress,” says Johnson.

“It is also important that we give those kids a little bit of the social aspect. Let them get in touch with their friends digitally. We have to be realistic with screen time because sometimes screen time means social time to them. We need them to be able to connect and they are not getting that interaction on a daily basis. Social isolation can really take a toll on your mental health and it can affect your children too. So, you know those days where you’re feeling like ‘Wow, I don’t know how I’m going to do this,’ your kids are going through the same thing.”