There's a lot to remember when you're preparing for kids to go back to school. Do their clothes and shoes still fit? Do they need school supplies or sports gear?
As you're crossing things off your to-do list, there are some healthy back-to-school essentials you should remember.
Check off a checkup
Back-to-school time is a great time for your child's yearly wellness exam, and any sports physicals your child may need for the coming school year.
“An annual wellness exam gives your child's health care provider a chance to check your child's overall health, look for any emerging problems, answer questions and offer advice about staying healthy,” says Joia Henson, APRN-CNP, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Kettering Physician Network Pediatrics at the Springboro Health Center.
In addition, this is the time to make sure that your child's immunizations are up-to-date. Immunizations greatly reduce your child's risk of serious illness, and schools may require kids to be vaccinated before they can attend.
Kids should also have regular hearing, vision and dental checkups—and back-to-school time is a convenient time to get these done.
Good health can help kids miss fewer days of school and do better on schoolwork. In addition to back-to-school physicals, there are more ways to support kids' health and help them succeed in school. Henson suggests you encourage your kids to:
Get enough sleep. Teens need 8 to 10 hours each day, younger kids need 9 to 12 hours, and preschoolers need 10 to 13 hours. Lack of sleep can cause problems with learning, concentration and mood.
Eat breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast improves students' physical and mental performance.
Keep hands clean. Remind your kids that back-to-school season coincides with flu season, and that handwashing is important to protect their health.
Build a better backpack. Your kids should use all the compartments in their backpacks and pack heavier items closest to the center of their back. Even though it may look cool, a backpack should never be slung over just one shoulder—using both shoulder straps can help prevent strained muscles.
Develop good homework and study habits. Establish a schedule for doing homework. Designate a space at home for studying that is quiet and free of distractions. Make sure the TV and other electronic distractions stay off while your kids are doing homework.
Report bullying. Whether bullying takes place at school, on the playground or through a computer or cell phone, it's important that the bad behavior is reported and stopped. Teach your children when and how to ask a trusted adult for help. And do your part by working with school officials to find solutions to any bullying.
Take the next step
To find out more about how you can keep your child healthy and safe this school year, talk to one of our care providers.