It’s back to school season for much of America. There are many ways – for the health and well-being of the entire family – that parents and their families can start the year off right.
Check-ups, screenings, and immunizations
It’s important that your child have routine exams and screenings to help track their development and identify (and treat) any potential problems. Make sure vision and hearing are among the routine screenings your child receives.
In addition to the routine trip to the primary care office, it is important that your child visit the dentist every six months. Mouth troubles and dental-related conditions account for the #1 reason kids miss school.
Check with your local school and your health care practitioner about vaccine requirements and recommendations, and what is best for your child. If possible, take advantage of being in the doctor’s office and schedule your child’s flu vaccine for October or November.
In order to avoid trips to the doctor throughout the school year, remind your kids to wash their hands. Send them with a bottle of hand sanitizer for those times they can’t suds up in a sink.
It is important for children to get several hours of quality sleep. They need the z’s in order to have energy, enthusiasm, and the capacity to learn.
Children ages 6-9 should aim for roughly 10 hours of sleep a night. Their older counterparts, the pre-teens, should get just over 9. All kids are different, however, and you should adjust their sleep schedule to suit them.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids not carry more than 10-20 percent of their body weight in a backpack. You should also double check that the weight in their bags are distributed evenly, and remind them to carry the backpack with both (ideally padded) straps.
Your child’s mental health: stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress are normal feelings at the start of the school year – for both kid and parent. Remember that it should pass within the first few weeks of school. If children remain anxious, you should talk with your health care practitioner.
Stomp out stress and anxiety by showing enthusiasm for the start of school. Talk with your kids about what happened each day, and get involved in with school activities. In addition to watching your child’s physical development, you should also keep tabs on their social and emotional changes.
More safety tips
Double check with your child’s school to ensure that the emergency contact information, as well as information about medications your child may take (at home or at school), known allergies, and physical limitations are current.
Depending upon how your child will get to school, remind them of safety tips. If they ride the bus, for example, they should know to keep out of the street and to keep a safe distance from the bus at all times; they should also know to wait for the bus driver to signal before crossing the street. If walking or bike riding, they should use a buddy system, wear reflective gear, obey traffic lights and street signs, and always wear a helmet. For those traveling by car, remind children to stay in their safety seats or seat belted at all times.
Encourage your kids to get active after school. Ideally, children and teenagers should get 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
Remind kids to practice good hygiene. In addition to washing their hands, remind them not to share combs/brushes or beverages.