We can’t believe that summer is coming to an end so quickly. We hope you and your kids are excited for a new school year. Here are a few reminders to make sure your kids are healthy and ready to head back to school.
Well Child Check Ups
Well child checks are an important part of your child’s health and wellness. Oftentimes these well checks are missed in the older elementary and middle school students. Well checks are a great time to talk with your child’s provider about normal growth and answer any questions you have about your child’s health.
Sports Physicals do not replace a well child check in teens. We realize that sometimes your child needs a physical when it is not yet time for your well check, After Hours Kids and SportsSafe do offer this service. But we do encourage everyone to still see their provider for a well child check. While a sports physical does clear your child to play sports, there isn’t the time to go into all aspects of your child’s health. Seeing a provider who knows your child and their medical history, is very important for their overall health, growth and development.
Preseason Training and Baseline testing
Many children and teens participate in sports. It is important to help your child prepare for the season. Talk with your child about hydration and good nutrition, many sports programs implement this into their preseason training, but it is important for parents to reinforce at home. Long practices in the heat can lead to dehydration so ensure your child is drinking plenty of water. No athlete wants to be injured and sidelined from the game. One way to help prevent injury is to ensure your child is using proper technique, not practicing so much they cause overuse injuries, and to ensure they are in athletic shape prior to practicing hard.
Concussions are a significant risk in all sports. One thing athletes can do prior to their season to be prepared is take a baseline test before the season starts. SportsSafe offers two types of baseline tests, and these can be used in the event your child suffers a concussion to help your provider ensure they are fully healed. Check out SportsSafe’s website for more information. (www.sportssafect.com)
First Day Worries
Many children are worried about their first days/weeks of school, especially if they are attending a new school. Here are some tips parents can do to help prepare their child and reduce those anxieties.
- Many classes have a time where children can meet their teacher before the first day, see the classroom, etc. Make these times a priority for your child. It can be very beneficial to walk into the school, see where the classroom is and play on the playground before the first day. If this is not offered by your school and your child is particularly nervous, contact the school to see if you can see the school before the first day. Many schools are very accommodating.
- Start talking about the exciting aspects of school well before the first day. Remind them of the positive things they experienced last year, and how fun it will be to see old friends and make new friends. Ask your child what specific things they are worried about and work out a plan with them to overcome those fears.
- Getting to school early on the first day can help ease some anxieties, and some children may want their parents to take them, walk them to their classroom.
- Be sure to check in with the teacher within the first few days to find out how things are going, and to let them know you want to support them in making your child’s school experience as best as it can be.
Be sure backpacks have two straps (and your child wears both) and do not weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s weight. Go through the backpack at least weekly to remove unnecessary things adding weight. Pack the heaviest items in the backpack closest to your child’s back. Adjust the straps so the backpack hits at your child’s waist.
Getting to School
Whether your child rides the bus, bikes, walks, or rides in the car to school it is important to talk to your child about how to stay safe on their way to and from school.
If your child is riding the bus, be sure your child knows to not approach the bus until it has completely stopped, they always walk where the driver can see them, and they stay seated on the bus at all time and wear seatbelts if provided. If your child has a medical condition that could result in an emergency on the bus, work with the school nurse before the first day of school to ensure your child has a bus emergency plan.
If your child is driving or riding in the car to school, ensure everyone is wearing a seatbelt, and if your child is less than 4’9” tall is in the appropriate car seat/booster seat. If your teen is driving to school, be sure they understand where to park, remind them to be extra cautious near and around the school, and to never text and drive. Check out our previous blog post about car safety (https://www.pediatricassociates.net/blog/car-safety).
If your child chooses to bike or walk to school, do a trial run before the first day of school. This will help you ensure your child can make the distance without getting fatigued, and they know the route. Most children are not ready to walk to school alone until they are 9-11 years old. You know your child and their abilities best, as always talk with your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns. It is best to have an adult or older child that your child can walk with. It is often beneficial to walk with your child for the first few times, until you are confident they know the route. Practice crossing streets safely with your child before the first day of school. Wearing bright colored clothing can help them be seen more easily by drivers.
Eating during the school day
It is very important to schedule time for your child to eat breakfast in the morning. Studies have shown that eating breakfast helps children and teens perform better, focus better and have more energy during the school day. Encourage them to eat something with protein, to help they stay full longer.
School lunch is often the first time young children eat away from home, and is the first time parents have less control over what children eat. Most schools provide a menu of what will be served for the week/month, planning with your child is important, to ensure to pack a lunch on days they don’t want what is being served. Discuss the importance of eating a healthy lunch with your child. If your child will be purchasing lunch at school be sure they understand how the process works and how to pay before the first day. If your child has food allergies be sure the school is aware of them and you have a plan in place in case of accidental exposure. Some schools may require a note from your child’s pediatrician.
Schedule and Routine
Children thrive on schedule and routine. Starting the school year is a big transition from the relaxing summer schedule. It can be beneficial to start the school sleep routine a week or two before school starts, to help with the transition. It is important your child is getting enough sleep to be successful at school, this is particularly challenging for teenagers who have a lot of commitments, and a rigorous academic workload. Helping your child make sleep a priority will significantly benefit them. Check out this blog post about how much sleep your child needs depending on their age. (https://www.pediatricassociates.net/blog/sleep).
The afternoon routine is very important to establish at the beginning of the school year, this should include plenty of scheduled homework time. Some students do better with homework right when they get home from school, and others may need some unwinding time before sitting down to complete it. Be sure your child has a quiet place that is dedicated to homework, that is free from distractions. If your child is struggling with a specific subject, talk to your child’s teacher, on the best way to work with your child at home, and if they may benefit from a tutor. Some kids need extra help with organization, time management and staying on task. Timers, planners, checklists and close supervision can help with these challenges, and help your child to feel successful. Work with your child and their teacher to make homework time a positive experience.
As always, your child’s pediatrician would love to talk with you more about specific concerns regarding back to school. We hope you and your families have a great start to the school year!