In the blink of an eye – summer vacation is over and it’s time to start gearing up for school, sports and schedules! Whether entering 1st or 12th grade, it’s important to prepare your kids for a seamless back to school transition. Teaching children about proper health, wellness and hygiene at a young age can help form lifelong habits that will prove to be beneficial for their physical and mental health! Below, we put together some of our best back to school tips to help both new and seasoned student parents get ready for the first weeks of the school year.
Physical Exam & Immunizations
Physicals are an important tool when it comes to your child’s school health and wellness. Although not always required, it’s a smart idea to get a physical prior to the start of the school year, especially if participating in a sport. “Sports physicals are intended to ensure a child’s safe participation in the sport of their choosing. The goal is to address any potential limitations which might need to be addressed prior to engaging in the sport,” says ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care CEO Marcus Hampers, MD.
These examinations are different than an annual wellness exam with a PCP and should not replace your child’s annual exam. Dr. Hampers elaborates, “Sports physicals typically include a questionnaire where important issues like prior concussions, vision, any symptoms during exercise, etc. are recorded. The provider performing the physical will review those with the child and his or her parents. The provider will also conduct a physical exam assessing things like vision, joints, spine, heart and lungs.”
In addition to a physical exam, it’s important that your child is up to date on necessary vaccinations prior to the first day of school. Vaccination requirements can vary by state so make sure to check with your state health department for a current list.
Healthy Hands-On Lunches
Proper nutrition is essential to healthy mental and physical development. Hot school lunches can be appealing to kids for a variety of reasons, but packing lunch can be a healthier, more affordable alternative. Getting your child involved with the lunch packing process makes them responsible for their choices, encourages independence and helps teach them about good nutrition. If your child really has their heart set on school lunch, you could incentivize them by offering to let them buy hot school lunch on Fridays if they make a healthy, well-balanced meal by themselves Monday – Thursday.
Although your local store may not have all the coolest, newest backpacks – you should always have your child try the backpack on for size before purchasing. If a backpack is too big, children will inevitably fill it and carry more weight than what is recommended. Backpacks should not weigh more than 5-10% of your child’s weight once full of all necessary supplies. Improper backpack size and weight can cause muscle and nerve damage, causing your child to have back, neck and shoulder pain. Other important features to look for in backpacks include a waist belt, padded shoulder straps and breathable material.
It’s important to make sleep a priority year-round. An evening routine can be beneficial for children to get back in the groove of the school year. It can also promote long term healthy sleep and hygiene habits when done consistently. To help regulate your child’s schedule, considering putting them to bed and waking them up at the same time every day, including weekends. Disconnecting from all devices such as cell phones, TVs, tablets and other screens at least one hour before bedtime can help children both physically and mentally prepare for a good night’s rest. Don’t forget to incorporate good hygiene habits such as bathing, teeth brushing, flossing and face washing into your routine.
As you and your child get ready to start the new school year, remember to soak up the last few warm, bright days together. ClearChoiceMD is here for you, at your convenience. All ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care centers offer $25 school and sport physicals with no appointment necessary. We also offer a variety of common vaccines, including Tdap, for your convenience. Contact your closest ClearChoiceMD center for more information.