Back-to-School Health Checklist
Summer is coming to an end, and the school year is quickly approaching. Your child’s school supply list isn’t the only one you should be checking off before the semester starts! Be sure to check off your kid’s health checklist.
Keep the germs away and vaccinate! Make sure your child is up to date with all of their immunizations to protect against any illnesses that may go around school, especially during flu season. It’s important to teach healthy habits, like how to wash hands and to use tissues or the inside of elbows to cover sneezes and coughs.
2. Get a physical.
Even if your child doesn’t play sports, scheduling a physical should be at the top of your to-do list. Physicals allow your doctor to analyze your child’s current state of health and can help prevent potential health problems down the road.
3. Start a sleep schedule.
Readjusting from summer to the school year could take some time, especially when it comes to your child’s sleep schedule. Considering the relaxed sleep patterns of summer, help your child adapt with these tips:
- Begin a sleep schedule a few days before school starts to get your child accustomed to the change.
- Turn down bright lights and keep the bedroom cool.
- Cut down on caffeinated drinks.
- Put away the electronics and start quieting down at a reasonable hour.
Set a goal for your kids to get 8 hours of sleep every night. For more tips, check out this healthy pre-sleep routine.
4. Talk about bullying.
Opening up a dialogue between you and your child about bullying will create a line of communication for your child to discuss their worries. Unfortunately, bullying and violence swarms many schools and can occur during or after school hours. Take precautions with your child; talk honestly, promote self-confidence, and always teach them that bullying is never allowed.
Are you concerned your child might be getting bullied? Look for these signs to protect your son or daughter’s safety.
5. Have a plan for health emergencies.
You know your child best. Make sure the school system knows what steps to take in case of emergency. Create an emergency action plan and review it with the school nurse and your child’s teacher.
Items to list in an emergency action plan include:
- Contact information and written consent. This will allow your child’s school to contact you and the doctor quickly.
- Your child’s food or medication allergies.
- A detailed list of current medications your child is taking.
- All of your child’s conditions that require specific care, such as diabetes or asthma.
Take a look at our Plan For It: Back-to-School Safety infographic for a comprehensive list of things to do to prepare for emergencies.
6. Get the groceries.
Stock up on healthy foods and nutritious snacks before the school year starts. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 are in a stage of slow but steady growth and eat around four or five times a day. Implementing healthy snacking and eating habits at a young age will help your child keep a balanced diet.
Start each day with a good breakfast, even if it’s on the go, and learn how to pack the perfect school lunch.
7. Discuss coping with anxiety and stress.
Each child is unique and handles change in different ways, and starting or changing schools can be nerve-wracking for some. Sometimes, when your child complains of an upset stomach, headache, or another ailment, he or she may be exhibiting anxiety or fear. An important thing to note is that separation anxiety is a normal part of development.
The best way to help your child cope with going back to school is to be supportive. Have your kids talk through their feelings; this helps them feel comfortable about sharing certain concerns, but always reassure them that it’s best to go back to school. Most of the time, separation anxiety ends quickly.
Need to make some marks on your back-to-school health checklist? Schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician or pediatrician.