Your children are enjoying every second of summer vacation but you need to get ready to send them back to school. Don’t think your list stops with pencils, backpacks and new clothes. You also need to prepare a back to school health checklist. Children need to be healthy and alert in order to do well in school. That means you need to prepare for everything from physicals to home schooling on germ warfare. Where should you start?
1. Call your child’s school and ask about required immunizations. Different schools have different requirements. Many school websites have a page of health-related requirements.
2. Your child’s doctor should perform a school physical. This physical can identify health problems, including hearing and vision issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in four school-age children have a vision problem.
3. Talk with your children about germs and how they spread. Teach the kids when and how to wash their hands properly. Use warm, soapy water after using the bathroom, before eating and when they come home from school. It may sound simple, but it is the best way to battle germs that hitch a ride home on the school bus. Also, make sure your children know what to do when they need to cough or sneeze. They should carry tissues or, if necessary, sneeze into the inside of their elbow instead of in their hands. While it may be nice to share some things, it’s not good to share germs, so talk with your children about not sharing food, drinks, clothes, hats and hairbrushes with their friends. Head lice are another classroom pest that may be slowed by these good health habits.
4. Children fall out of their school day routine during vacation. Don’t wait until the night before school begins to get back into that routine. Ease your children back into their sleep schedule by gradually imposing an earlier bedtime a few weeks before school begins.
5. Have a plan for sick days. Pediatricians stress that you should not send your child to school with a fever. A fever means the immune system is trying to fight off something, and your child may be contagious to other children and adults. Have a plan in place for last minute sick child care. You will probably need it before the school year ends.
6. Do your children use their backpacks correctly? It is uncertain whether heavy backpacks cause permanent damage in children, but overloaded and improperly work backpacks can cause temporary back pain. Pediatricians urge parents to look for backpacks with individual compartments for sharp objects pike pencils. Heavier items should be placed closer to the body. Your child’s backpack should also have two should straps for even weight distribution.