You may have been turning a blind eye to the back-to-school ads which have been appearing for weeks from Wal-Mart, Target, and other stores, but once the calendar turns to August it’s hard to deny that back-to-school is coming soon! Your child spends more time at school than anywhere else except home – and, during the week, they definitely spend more of their waking hours at school than at home. Schools can have a major impact on a child’s health – physically, mentally, and emotionally. In addition to providing the basics of reading, math, and science, schools can also promote healthy behaviors.
Send your child to school every day ready to learn. Here are a few tips for getting your students off to the best school year.
- Focus on your child’s nutrition. Good nutrition before, during, and after school provide the necessary energy to keep minds alert during the school day and bridge the time between after school with sports and other activities until dinner. Avoid empty calories from added sugars and fats. Be a good role model for a healthy diet. Always try to have plenty of healthy snacks and drinks available.
- Make sleep a priority. Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise. Most school-age children need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Overuse of electronic devices can inhibit adequate sleep; put away electronics one hour before bedtime and read a book instead.
- Know the risks your school-aged child may face. Making sure that students have the necessary immunizations (including a flu shot when they’re available) and sports physicals to avoid injury and stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a schedule of recommended immunizations. Other health risks for school-aged children include bullying, head lice, poor vision, and scoliosis.
Be an active partner in your child’s education, health, and wellness. Don’t wait for problems to emerge before talking to teachers or coaches about any of your concerns or issues you see arise. Keep these ideas in mind as you go through the new school year.
- Try to talk to your child at least a little each day. Better than asking, “How was your day?” and receiving the typical response of “fine,” ask more open-ended questions about the best – or worst! – part of their day. Ask the names of their friends and why they like being their friend. Good times to talk include meals, times in the car, walking the dog, standing in a line or waiting at a restaurant, or when getting ready for bed.
- Whenever possible, volunteer in your child’s classroom or go to have lunch occasionally. Consider taking a vacation day from work to go on a field trip or help with a class party. Be willing to talk about your job on career day.
- Make back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences an absolute priority. In addition to getting to know your child’s teacher, this tells your child that they are important to you.
- Get familiar with the school and its website.
- Support expectations for homework. Check your child’s backpack every day for notes and homework assignments. Be sure to provide the support needed – both time and help – for homework to be completed successfully.
Building your medical support team. While attendance at school is important and should be considered your child’s “job,” sick children should stay home if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don't seem to be acting "themselves" should also be allowed take a sick day occasionally.
If your child does become sick and needs medical help, don’t forget to contact your closest Integrity Urgent Care clinic. Because we’re here 7 days a week, 8 am – 8 pm, we’re here when you need us most – after work, after school, and on the weekends. And an appointment is never needed! We can help with those back-to-school physicals and immunizations too. We’re part of your back-to-school support team!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Does your back-to-school checklist include vaccination? [online]. Last updated 24 Jul 2018 [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://www.cdc.gov/features/catchupimmunizations/index.html
Johns Hopkins Medicine. Back-to-school health: tips for parents infographic [online]. [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/wellbeing/back-to-school-infographic
KidsHealth from Nemours. 10 Ways to help your child succeed in elementary school [online]. Reviewed Sep 2014 [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-elementary.html
KidsHealth from Nemours. 10 Ways to help your child succeed in middle school [online]. Reviewed Sep 2014 [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-middle.html
KidsHealth from Nemours. 10 Ways to help your child succeed in high school [online]. Reviewed Sep 2014 [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-teens.html
MedlinePlus. School health. Updated 17 Jul 2018 [cited 10 Aug 2018]. https://medlineplus.gov/schoolhealth.html