Bringing Health Back to School

No one knows quite how it happens. First, you’re planning a beach vacation five months down the road and wondering if you’ll fit into last summer’s clothing. Then you blink and suddenly it’s Labor Day weekend and the kids are headed back to school. Your mental health is sure to undergo a few strains—but what about your physical health? Better yet, what about your child’s health?

Going back to school can be an exciting as well as stressful time for both parents and kids. Here are some health tips from acac West Chester nurse Erin Gaertner to keep in mind going into a new school year.

Annual physicals / check-ups 

– Stay up-to-date with your child’s vaccines.
– Provide extra medications (inhalers, insulin, epi-pen, allergy relief, etc.) if needed for the school nurse.
– Schedule annual vision exams to determine if your child needs glasses or contacts this year.

Nutrition

– Eat a nutritious breakfast—after all, it’s the most important meal of the day!
– Look at the school lunch menu to see what your kids are eating and pack a lunch if what’s being served is not something they will eat.
– Avoid packing sugary snacks!

Sleep

Help ease the transition of waking up early by gradually having kids go to bed a little earlier each night the week before school starts. Depending on your child’s age, here are the recommended hours of sleep each night:

3 – 5 years: 10 – 12 hours
6 – 13 years: 9 – 11 hours
14+ years: 8 – 10 hours

Back packs

Heavy backpacks are no joke! Follow these suggestions to make sure your child is not carrying more than they can handle.

– Weight of a backpack should not exceed 20% of the student’s weight.
– Use both straps instead of slinging backpack over one shoulder.
– Try a rolling book bag.

Hand washing

A lot of kids = a lot of germs. Stress the importance of hand washing to kids especially after using the restroom and before eating.

Anxiety

– Going back to school can cause a lot of anxiety for some kids. Try to stay positive and remind your child of positive events from previous years.
– Arrange for a neighborhood friend as a bus buddy, or drive and pick up your child on the first day of school.
– If new to a school, attend orientations or go for a tour prior to the first day of classes.