Now that your child is back in school, the sometimes easy-breezy days of summer have turned hectic with schedules, deadlines, homework, complex relationships. For the next few weeks we’ll be running a series about things to keep in mind during the school year ahead.
Today we start with how best to insure a healthy year at school.
You already know the best way to stay healthy, but it bears repeating: prevention is always the best medicine. Here are some pointers.
- Checkups. Has your child had her annual well child checkup? If not, now is the time to schedule it. The doctor will look at health history, height and weight, and will discuss age-appropriate health topics with you and your child. If you have a specific concern (social behaviors, learning difficulties, chronic ear infections, etc.) to discuss, you’ll want to let the office know when you call for the appointment to make sure they schedule a longer visit for you.
- Immunizations. Yes, we harp on this a lot, but it’s for good reason. Immunizations protect children, families, and even whole communities from dangerous diseases. The state requires that you keep certain ones up to date; we have others we recommend. Check with our office (or on the patient portal) for your records.
- Exercise. Sitting all day at school, then coming home and sitting in front of the TV or at the computer and homework desk is not good for your kid. He needs to get moving. Don’t expect physical education classes to provide all the exercise he needs. Unstructured play is good for all children, and organized sports are a great way to learn things like discipline, teamwork and a sense of accomplishment.
- Germs. Let’s be honest. There’s no way to avoid germs at school. Uncovered coughs and sneezes, shared desks and close quarters give viruses all sorts of opportunities to infect students. Some exposure is good to develop immunity, but keeping hands clean is a great way to stave off colds and flu. Send hand sanitizer to school in your children’s backpack, and remind them to clean their hands before eating and after they use the restroom. Every time. Don’t share drinks or eating utensils. And, while we’re at it, remind them not to share combs, brushes or hats, which is the most common way to spread head lice.
- Sleep. A good night’s sleep is an essential ingredient in the learning process. Sleep also helps mood and strengthens the immune system. Set a regular bedtime and stick with it, making sure your child or teen has an age-appropriate amount of sleep.
- Balanced diet. Eating right feeds both body and brain. This webpage at the American Academy of Pediatrics site lists several of their articles regarding diet. Don’t forget we have a dietician on staff who can help you come up with an action plan for your young athlete, picky eater, diabetic, or can help you plan easy lunches and snacks to pack for school.
Keep these things in mind throughout the school year and they will help your child have a successful and healthy school year.
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