Pop quiz! Aside from school supplies and new clothes, what should be at the top of every parent’s back to school checklist? A child’s health!
As you prepare your kid for the new school year, don’t forget to schedule important health check-ups to assure your kid gets a healthy start to the academic year ahead. Here are 10 health tips to consider before the school year starts.
Although every school district has its own specifications for immunizations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all kids enrolled in public schools be up to date with their shots. If you are not sure what the required immunizations for your child are, consult your school nurse or check out the list of immunization requirements by state on the AAP website. Don’t forget to provide an updated list to the school nurse when the school year begins.
- Eye exam
Is your kid having trouble seeing the board? Many children won’t report limited eyesight since they aren’t even aware there is a problem. According to WebMD, a child should begin taking annual eye exams at the age of three and continue on throughout adulthood. This way your pediatrician can track any changes in your child’s vision and address any problems at an early stage.
- Hearing exam
What? Huh? Does your child ask you to repeat yourself a lot? If the answer is yes, then it’s probably time for a hearing exam. Just like with eye sight, hearing problems can hinder learning if your child cannot hear across a classroom. You should note that selective hearing, as in when your child doesn’t “hear” you say to do chores, is not a medical problem.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, speech and language problems may lead to hardships in reading, writing and interpersonal relationships. If you think your child might have a problem with speech and language, schedule an appointment to see a speech-language pathologist in your area.
- Dental checkups
As with eye sight, regular dental checkups should begin at age three and continue on throughout adulthood. Children sometimes have a fear of saying that they have a tooth ache because they are afraid of the dentist, so it is imperative that you keep up with your child’s dental checkups.
- Health conditions
Make sure you update your child’s medical emergency form every year and let the school know of any conditions or medications your child is taking. If your child needs assistance with his medications, or a simple reminder, talk to the school nurse about checking in and keeping your child’s health on track. Don’t forget to let the school know of any allergies your child has.
Going back to school means getting up early and going to bed early, probably the opposite of what your child has been doing all summer. Ease them back into a school routine by slowly making bedtime earlier and earlier every night and suspending any late night snacking on food or drink with sugar and caffeine.
- The backpack
Heavy backpacks can lead to back pain or even serious conditions like scoliosis. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a child’s backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of his or her body weight. They also recommend selecting a backpack that is lightweight, or a rolling backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and back.
- Diet needs
If your child is on a special diet, let the school know right away, especially if he or she is severely allergic to a food. Talk to your school about their meal plan options or simply make your child’s breakfast and lunch at home.
If your kid is new to a school or simply going to school for the first time, they might have some anxiety over the new environment and new people. Talk to your kid about what to expect on their first day and give them all the tools they need to feel successful, from picking a special first-day-of-school outfit to packing a special note with their lunch. Share with them the positive emotions of going to school and making new friends.
Sending your child off to school after a summer at home can be nerve-wracking enough, so take the worry out of it by making sure they are in peak health before heading back to school. With the right health preparation, the only things your kid will have to worry about are cooties.
Viktoriya Caneva is a contributing writer for Nashua Dentistry, specializing in cosmetic and restorative dentistry in Nashua, New Hampshire.