Summer is winding down, which means many children and their parents are preparing to go back to school within the next few weeks. Between orientations, sports registrations, and purchasing school supplies, fitting in a doctor’s appointment can be easier said than done. Many schools, sports, and activities require yearly back-to-school physicals for each child, so it’s important to fit an appointment in before the first day of school. In addition to physicals, there are a few other ways parents can help kids to make healthy choices throughout the school year.
- Backpack Safety: For many parents, a new backpack to help children carry their many books and supplies children is automatically part of their back-to-school shopping list.. However, improperly sized backpacks or shoulder bags, and backpacks that are too heavy, can lead to a number of health problems. Sturdy backpacks with strong straps are highly recommended, particularly for children that are hauling books back and forth. Be sure to remind children to use both straps on the backpack should be used at all time, as slinging the bag over one shoulder or using a one shoulder bag can strain muscles. Rolling backpacks are also recommended if your child’s school allows them. Finally, encouraging children to manage their work so that they never have to carry too many books is extremely beneficial for their young backs.
- Developing a Sleep schedule: Transitioning from staying up late during the summer and getting to bed early for school can be tricky for many children. One of the most important things to do in August is to get your child back on a regular sleep schedule prior to the night or two before the first day of school. Many experts recommend starting with having your child get to bed an hour earlier than normal and have them wake up an hour earlier one to two weeks before the start of school. This way, they can slowly ease themselves into the routine and feel well-rested and adjusted when their alarm goes off on the first day.
- Packing Healthy Lunches: Summer means ice cream, hot dogs, burgers, and sweets, but these shouldn’t be part of your child’s school lunch. It’s important to get your child back into the habit of eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day to keep themselves healthy. In addition, packing school lunches with more fruits and veggies and less sugar and preservatives is a way to keep lunches more nutritious. If you prefer buying lunch for your child at the school cafeteria, make sure to look at the menus to see what options are available and be sure to check up on any food allergies your child may have. Take a look at some healthy lunch recipes here.
Making sure your child has a sturdy backpack, a regular sleep and eating schedule, and healthy lunch options will get them off on a great start for the new school year. But before that, it’s important to schedule a back to school physical, especially if the school requires one. At Genesis Medical, our team can help you and your child prepare for the new school year and help them make healthy eating and sleeping choices. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find your nearest location and our staff will more than happy to assist you.