As you get your young ones ready to go back to school, your to-do list starts to grow.
As important as it is to make sure children are academically prepared for the school year, it is equally important to make sure they are healthy. From elementary school to college, here are some things you need to know to keep your children healthy through the school year.
Immunizations are one of the most crucial factors in preventing the spread of illness. For middle school children, it’s important to make sure their tetanus and meningitis immunizations are up-to-date. The tetanus booster (Tdap) provides protection against pertussis, or whooping cough. Rising college students will most likely need a booster on their meningitis vaccine.
“With young adults leaving for college, this is the perfect time to make sure they are up to date on all their immunizations,” said Dr. David Rainey of Novant Health Robinhood Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. “You want to make sure your children are prepared and healthy when they leave home.”
Also, don’t forget about the flu shot in the fall – the best way to prevent the flu from spreading. In addition to immunizations, hand-washing and hand sanitizer can significantly help reduce the spread of germs. Send your child to school with their own personal hand sanitizer, especially during flu season.
Make sure your child has his or her sports physical. North Carolina requires sports physicals for middle school and high school sports, and it’s a good idea to make sure your child is ready to go. Sports physicals are also a great opportunity to check up on your family history and make sure there isn’t a threat of asthma or musculoskeletal problems.
In addition to sports physicals, make sure children are prepared for their sports season by staying hydrated and getting in shape – stretching and conditioning are extremely important in the months leading up to the season.
If your child doesn’t play sports, a regular checkup is a great alternative. Take advantage of an opportunity to make sure your child is healthy for the upcoming school year.
The new school year is a good time to evaluate the lunches and snacks you send with your child to school. Some healthy options include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk dairy products, as well as foods low in sodium and fat.
Encourage your child to choose water or 100-percent fruit juice drinks. One soda has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar and drinking just one soda a day increases your child’s risk of obesity by 60 percent.
Sleep plays an important role in staying healthy. If your child is sleep-deficient, he or she may have a harder time fighting off infections. Elementary school children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Middle school children should have anywhere from 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, while high school students should be getting 8 to 9 hours.
“One thing I think is extremely important to remember is getting your teenagers back on a reasonable sleep cycle,” Rainey said. “If they have been staying up late all summer, you’ll want to help them get back into a routine of getting to bed on time and waking up at a reasonable time. Sometimes it can take a little while to get readjusted, so the earlier you start, the better.”
To help your children succeed in school, set up a regular homework time. Make sure they have a consistent, quiet place to work, free of distractions like phones and the TV. It’s also a good idea to supervise their computer and Internet use.
Click here find a pediatrician in your area to make an appointment for a sports physical or checkup.