Back to School Tips from Benefis Pediatrics

While the temperatures may be soaring with summer in full swing, the start of school is just around the corner. Taking each child's educational stage into consideration, here are a few things to consider in the weeks to come:

TURN DOWN THE DIAL

Many children get used to relaxed rules around screen time during the summer, from TV to video games to texting. In the weeks leading up to school, consider scaling back to ease your child into their school schedule. Instead of screen time, encourage your child to read, color, journal, or play quietly.

SCHOOL SPORTS

If your child’s school or team requires a sports physical, make sure you have an up-to-date sports physical on file with the school. They may seem like a hassle, but these visits help to identify potentially dangerous conditions. Sports physicals are best done by your pediatrician or family doctor, who knows your child’s history — there’s a little more to it than checking a box.

GET YOUR ZZZ’S

Poor quality or lack of sleep can have significant effects on school performance. Many of us let our children stay up later during the summer months, and the late summer sunsets add to the change in sleep routines. In the weeks leading up to school, consider slowly adjusting bedtime.

A general guideline is that elementary school kids require around 10 to 12 hours per night, and middle school or high school students usually need 9 to 10 hours. Bedtime can be adjusted by 15 to 30 minutes per day to reach the target bedtime for an adequate night’s sleep.

NUTRITION

Start your child’s day off with a nutritious breakfast. Studies show that students have better concentration when they eat a good breakfast before school. Children who consume breakfast also tend to keep their weight under control, have lower cholesterol levels, miss fewer days of school, and make less trips to the school nurse for stomachaches related to hunger.

MEDICATIONS

If your child has any medical conditions that require medication at school (diabetes, asthma, allergies, ADHD, etc.,) now is the time to check for anything that expired over the summer and that forms needed by your child’s school are completed by your doctor and given to the school nurse.

IMMUNIZATIONS & STAYING WELL

Especially for children starting kindergarten or seventh grade, now is a good time ensure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date. Diseases can spread quickly in a crowded classroom environment, and vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent this.

Classrooms are wonderful learning places that sometimes mean sharing more – including germs. Within a week of children being back in a sharing environment together, children may become sick. To keep illness away, review proper handwashing hygiene. Remind and demonstrate to your child how to sneeze and cough into their elbow instead of their hands. Encourage your child to limit unhealthy hand-to-mouths habits like nail biting. Also, your child’s teacher may welcome parent donations of sanitizing wipes, tissues, and bottles of hand sanitizer to help keep everyone well.

CHECK YOUR CHILD’S EMOTIONAL PULSE

Another great way to prepare for the year ahead is to check your child’s pulse in terms of their feelings about starting a new school or going back to school. Ask your child what they are looking forward to and what may be concerning to them. Proactively addressing your child’s concerns may make all the difference.

For children nervous about making friends, consider activities with children who share similar interests. If their worries are about who will be on the bus with them, check in with your neighbors to see if someone else is looking for a bus-buddy for the first weeks of school. For some children, starting school can be a stressful time. If your child seems excessively worried or stressed, it may be a good idea to bring it to your doctor’s attention.

PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK FIRST

For many families, the summer is a fun time filled with work, camps, family, friends, vacations, and more. Just as you can help your child get ready for the school year routine, make sure you are taking time to check in with yourself and have the necessary things in place to help you transition to the school year, too. From before- and after-school care to coordinating carpool, advance-planning and even practicing the morning routine may make your day easier once the school year starts.

Have a wonderful August and a wonderful school year ahead!

Benefis Pediatrics