It’s hard to believe, but the “back to school” season is already arriving on the scene. Not only does this mean that it’s time to look for great deals on school supplies – it’s also a sign that it’s time to go over your child’s school-related health checklist. So as you begin to shop for notebooks, binders and pencils, you’ll also want to do the following:
1) Schedule a checkup. Annual physicals are important for adults and children alike, but are especially important when back to school season arrives; in fact, in many districts proof of these exams are required, particularly if you child is interested in playing a sport. A doctor’s appointment can confirm that your child is healthy and illness-free before they rejoin their classmates for the year. It also gives you an opportunity to chat with your doctor about your child’s wellness in general, such as their diet and exercise goals or what to expect if they’ll be starting puberty soon. Finally, during an appointment your doctor will be able to review your child’s immunizations records and confirm that they are up to date and meet your school’s, and state’s, current requirements.
2) Visit an ophthalmologist. In addition to visiting your primary care doctor, you’ll want to take your child to an eye doctor before the school year starts. Good vision is essential to performing well at school. Unfortunately, one in four school-age children have vision problems, and relying on schools to catch these problems during in-house vision tests often leads to a delayed diagnosis; worse, many young children don’t report vision problems, often out of fear or confusion. Fortunately, a simple vision test will reveal if your child is having any vision issues – and will also ensure that their eyes are healthy overall.
3) Get a routine going. Many of the habits and routines that help children do well in school are abandoned during the summer. To help ensure that your child does their best at school, it’s important to help your children get back into their school-year rhythm before they even return to class. At least one week before school restarts, you should begin shifting your children’s bedtimes back so that they wake up early enough to make their classes. You should also reduce their TV and computer time in the hour or two before bedtime, to ensure that they get a good night’s rest.
4) Talk to the school nurse and secretary. Whether your child has allergies, a chronic illness, or physical restrictions, the school needs to know about any health-related needs or limitations when the school year starts. This is important for several reasons:
- If your child experiences an illness-specific medical emergency, talking to the school will ensure that the staff is prepared to handle it in advance.
- If your child needs to take medications regularly at home, the school nurse needs to know what they are taking. This will help them recognize any potential medicine-related complications or issues.
- If your child needs to receive medicine during the day, speaking with your school’s nurse and secretary will ensure child can receive their medications.
5) Prepare for any school sports. While sports are a great activity for children, they can also pose a number of hazards in the wrong circumstances. Fortunately, reducing the risks associated with these hazards is as simple as properly preparing for a day on the field or in the gym. If you have a child that plays sports, please review this list of sports preparation guidelines to ensure that they’re set for their game days. (And don’t forget to add an additional step to the list: consider buying a fitted mouthguard to protect your child’s teeth!)
The Back To School season can admittedly feel like a busy time, and adding some of these items to your do-to list may feel like a chore. But remember, each point plays a vital role in ensuring that your child will have as healthy a school year as possible – and we are happy to help you through this process. So if you have questions about any of your child’s health-related needs, we invite you to schedule an appointment or call our offices so that we can help you prepare for the 2015 – 2016 school year!