Preparing your child (and you) for a healthy back-to-school

Back to school 

With summer still in full swing, school is probably the last thing you and your child want to think about. But summer is the perfect time to take care some of your child’s health needs in preparation for the new school year. With a little preparation before school begins, you can avoid some of the stressful mornings and frenetic running around that characterizes back-to-school time. 

Visit the eye doctor

Vision problems in children are common: about 1 in 20 children have a visual problem. School success depends on good vision, both for close work such as reading and distance vision to see anything shown or written on the board. Children should be screened for vision problems every year. If a screening was done at school and they found a potential problem, follow up with an eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist). If no screening was done at school, summer is a good time to visit your child’s doctor or an eye doctor for a screening.

Make appointments for sports physicalsDoctors appointment

Children who take part in school sports are likely to be required to have a sports physical, and a doctor usually has to sign a form that says the child is able to play. The focus of the sports physical is different from the typical well-child visit; while a well-child visit focuses on development, a sports physical will check your child’s heart health and look at posture, joints, strength, and flexibility. The doctor may also talk to you and your child about a healthy diet and drinking enough water, and about how to prevent a concussion. Find out from your school or town sports league about what is needed for your child, and make an appointment to get the physical done before the time crunch and busyness of September.

Take care of vaccinations (shots)

Schools typically require that students have the right vaccinations, and ask for proof at school registration. Not sure what the required vaccinations are? Check this vaccination schedule for kids. If you’re not sure whether your child is up-to-date, call your child’s doctor. If you’re child is up-to-date, they will send you a form that you can give to the school. If your child needs a vaccination, you can make an appointment to get it done.

Want to know more? Visit the MaineHealth vaccine page.

Get a head start on a healthy routine

Summertime allows your child to sleep late and have a more relaxed schedule than during the school year. As the first day of school approaches, you can help your child to ease back into the school year routine.

  • Start the transition to the school year sleep schedule during the last couple of weeks of summer. Getting used to going to bed and waking up earlier is important to avoid the stress-filled rush to get out the door. Older kids may normally tend to stay up and sleep later because of their biologic clocks, so it is even more important for them to take some time to allow their systems to readjust to the early morning start time.
  • Make room in the morning schedule for breakfast. Though it may feel like one more thing to do in the morning, it’s essential to make time for breakfast. It has been clearly shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast before school do better all day long. For children who get breakfast at school, be sure they arrive at school with enough time to eat before school begins.

You can still enjoy the lazy days of summer while getting your children’s health needs taken care of before the jam-packed days of September. With a little planning, you and your child can get a healthy head start to the school year.

If you would like more information on this, or any other health related topic, the health educators at the Learning Resource Center are happy to help. They provide trusted & reliable health information and connect people to local resources in the community. Connect with a health educator today! Be well, be well informed.

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