To make sure the upcoming school year goes well, be sure your kid’s back-to-school health is in tip-top shape. Feeling healthy and strong always helps kids feel happier and more confident.
Make sure vaccines are up to date
Vaccines help prevent kids from getting all kinds of diseases like polio, measles and mumps. Parents also have the option of getting additional vaccines for their kids, such as a flu shot. Your child’s health care provider can tell you which vaccines kids should have based on age.
Examples include vaccines for:
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Meningococcal disease
“Vaccines are important to prevent communicable diseases,” says Catherine M. Weathers, CNP, a nurse practitioner at Mercy Health – Maineville Primary Care. “These diseases can cause lifelong complications for children which are preventable. The vaccines will allow children to be free of complications such as polio, measles and tetanus.
Have your child’s vision checked
Having your child’s vision checked is one of the most important school health tips for school students. Roughly 5 percent of children can’t see clearly, which can affect school performance and self-esteem.
Check to see if your child’s school offers annual vision tests. If not, get a vision test for your child through a local health care provider.
Schedule a well-child checkup
Late summer is the perfect time to schedule an annual checkup for your child. In addition to monitoring vaccinations and checking vision, your child’s health care provider will:
- Discuss any behavioral or emotional problems
- Do a physical exam
- Look at growth and development
- Screen for hearing problems
- Track your child’s health history
Not only does this help your provider maintain a baseline on your child’s health, but it can also identify any issues early and prevent injuries from physical activity before heading back to school.
Keep your child’s school informed
Parents can help keep their children safe and healthy by keeping schools informed. Check that your child’s emergency phone numbers are up to date and in the correct order. In addition, make sure the school has phone numbers for your child’s doctor and dentist.
Tell the school if your child has any medical condition that may affect activity or if they are on medications. Schools also need to know if kids have any allergies that might cause health problems.
Examples include allergies to:
Take COVID-19 precautions
With COVID-19 still out there, it’s important to continue to take precautions. At home, practice hand washing before meals, and use hand sanitizer regularly. Pack a refillable water bottle in your child’s lunch and make sure they wear a mask on the bus and at school.
Check your child each morning for any signs of illness like cough, sore throat or fever. Kids with a temperature of 100.4 or higher should not go to school.
Nurture your child’s creativity
Let them make their own mask choices and get their help in putting together personal packs of hand sanitizer, tissues, glue and scissors. They will enjoy choosing their own individual pack of school supplies, which will also help cut down on spreading germs in the classroom. Make sure to buy a washable backpack. Also, have your child pack their own utensils, single-serve snacks and a personal water bottle.
“Encouraging children’s creativity allows them to learn how to problem solve. Creative play makes children process how things work as well as analyze how it works,” Catherine says. “When children are playing family, drawing, building with blocks and have free play, they learn how to resolve conflict and express how they are feeling. Creativity can improve a child’s emotional intelligence, while having constant stimuli from a device can hinder a child’s development with creative thinking and problem-solving.”
The responsibility for creating a safe school atmosphere this year will be the job of teachers, staff, parents and students. However, the payoff will be great.
More back-to-school health tips to try
If you’re wondering what else you can do to keep your kids healthy and happy, consider these back-to-school health and safety tips:
- Buy a rolling backpack if your child has lots of books.
- Don’t forget to give kids healthy after-school snacks.
- Look for back-to-school healthy lunch ideas.
- Make sure backpacks have adjustable straps, padding and plenty of pockets.
- Start the day with a nutritious breakfast.
- Avoid sugary drinks and limit time on electronic devices.
- Try to make sure kids get at least eight hours of sleep.
As someone once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” To make sure your child has the best school year possible, follow this back-to-school health checklist.
When it’s time to schedule an annual checkup for your child, check out the pediatric care services we offer at Mercy Health.