Believe it or not, school is right around the corner. But in addition to buying school supplies and digging out backpacks, it’s important to focus on a few health-related “to-dos” as your kids head back to school. What should be on your family’s back-to-school health checklist? Make time for these important health activities during the back-to-school season.
See the Doc
Make sure a yearly check-up with your child’s primary care provider is on the calendar to monitor and address your child’s overall health and development. If your child plans to participate in sports, you can likely get any required release forms signed at the same time. And don’t forget about dental health. It’s recommended that kids get a dental check-up every six months to help prevent cavities.
At a well-child visit, your child’s primary care provider should check that they are up-to-date on all required childhood immunizations. If They have missed any, it’s important to play catch-up to avoid illness. This includes getting a yearly flu vaccine. School-age children have some of the highest rates of flu. Getting the flu shot is the best way to help your young one keep clear of the illness.
Plan Power Meals
Start the day with a healthy breakfast, which is proven to help kids concentrate, do better in school, and have more energy. And when packing lunches, aim for something nutritious and fun. Think healthy, kid-friendly pizza made with whole-grain English muffin and loaded with veggies or turkey veggie roll-ups in a whole wheat tortilla. See our whole grain power meal recipes.
Set a Schedule
Getting enough sleep is vital to your child’s ability to focus and learn. Remove devices from bedrooms to promote healthy sleep habits. And set a consistent bedtime before the school year starts to make sure you’re in a routine before the first day. Younger children should get about 10 to 12 hours a night, while adolescents (ages 13 to 18) should get at least 8 to 10 hours.
Sweat Your Stress
School pressures and academic expectations can take a mental toll. Encourage your child to manage stress with exercise. Experts report that exercise can reduce tension, elevate mood, improve sleep and boost self-esteem. Get your child involved in sports or even a neighborhood game of tag. Better yet, get the whole family out riding bikes, throwing the Frisbee, taking a walk together, dancing in the living room or shooting hoops.