5 tips for back to school health

Donate Today Buy This Video

It’s hard to believe summer is winding down – at least, that is, for school-aged kids.

As the first day of school approaches, there are things parents should consider that will help their children get a healthy start to the new school year.

1. Schedule a wellness checkup 

Summer is a good time to take care of a child’s annual wellness visit and ask about a sports physical for young athletes.

Annual well-child visits are essential. Physicians track their height and weight, make sure they’re up to date on immunizations and even talk about behavioral milestones and emotional health. Annual visits also create a medical history that shows their growth and development over time.

The sports physical is an additional brief exam that ensures your child can safely participate in athletics. Many schools require a form signed by a physician confirming they’re healthy enough to play.

2. Check backpacks

As kids get older, their backpacks get heavier. A heavy backpack could put kids at risk of back, shoulder and neck pain, poor posture and a higher risk of falling. 

Make sure a child’s backpack only weighs 10-15 percent of their body weight. Choose a backpack with a padded back and wide, padded shoulder straps. Encourage your child to use both straps to distribute the load evenly.

3. Pedestrian safety is more than looking both ways

Walking and biking are great activities for kids, but parents should make sure they review pedestrian safety with their kids first.

Children younger than 10 shouldn’t walk to school alone. Parents could use the time walking with them to hold their hand while teaching them about looking both ways and how traffic signals work. 

Consider the safety of the route and the maturity level of tweens and teens before sending them to school on foot or bicycle. Make sure they know not to use their cell phones while walking or riding. Find reflective items to put on their bags and jackets.

4. Prioritize sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential for a productive school day and a healthy kid. 

Even in the summer try to stick with a bedtime routine and make sure your child is getting enough sleep. Children aged 6-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep each night, while teens aged 13-18 need 8-10 hours.

Before school begins, start following a school year sleep and wake schedule to get them on track. A bedtime routine will help parents avoid arguments over going to bed and waking up. 

5. Spend time on nutrition

Good nutrition is important for kids, especially when they’re busy with school and activities.

Plan healthy meals and snacks ahead of time. This makes it easier to avoid last-minute fast-food runs.

As much as possible, try to eat as a family at the dinner table. Even better, cook together. This is a great way to spend time with each other without distractions.

630 Naperville welcomed guest Dr. Francis Antony a Family Medicine Physician with Edward-Elmhurst Medical Group.