Your children have the right outfits, the right supplies, the right attitude for the new school year (you hope). But what about their health? Don’t forget to schedule important checkups and make sure they’re on a healthy routine, a good way to help ensure their success. Here’s a checklist of health tips to consider when preparing for the new school year. Next
Visit the dentist
More than 40 percent of kids have some form of tooth decay by the time they start kindergarten, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. You may not be able to see the tooth decay but the pain may impede on a child’s ability to focus in class. A yearly checkup before school starts is a good way to prevent decay and other teeth problems.
In fact, a child should see a dentist routinely when their first tooth appears.
Establish a good sleep routine
Sleep is essential to children’s performance in school. Preschoolers should get an average of 11 to 13 hours of sleep each night, and school-age children up to Grade 5 should get about 10 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Children who don’t get enough sleep risk being overtired and underperforming at school.
Although the days are longer in the summer, it may be a good time to get kids to bed earlier weeks before the start of the school year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some tips on how to develop a good sleep habit, which can be tailored to children:
Put children to bed at the same time each night, and rise at the same time each morning.
Have children sleep in a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
Make their bed comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music.
Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom Next
Eat breakfast every morning
Approximately 8 to 12 percent of all school-aged children skip breakfast, and by the time they enter adolescence, as many as 20 to 30 percent of them have completely given up the morning meal, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the benefits to children of eating breakfast are overwhelming. Eating a full and balanced breakfast can prevent weight gain and help them build stronger bones and a healthier immune system. Children who eat breakfast have higher energy levels and function and concentrate better in school.
Although a typical school morning may be a rush against time to get out the door, there are a few ways to make morning meals happen, according to eatright.org:
Ask your kids what they’d like to eat in the morning and plan for it.
Use a checklist to plan and put together a variety of healthy breakfasts so they’re not eating the same thing every morning.
Put breakfast fixings in easy-to-grab place so they can help themselves.
Eat breakfast yourself and make sure your kids see that you do. Next
Plan for healthy lunches and snacks
Junk foods are often the go-to snack and lunch options for children. While new laws, such as the Hunger Free Kids Act, are making school lunches healthier, you ‘re likely able to pack lunches and snacks that are just as healthy and well-portioned. And according the the American Dietetic Association, when kids help plan their lunches, they are much more likely to eat them. Current dietary guidelines recommend meals based on whole grains and fresh produce, so get planning!
Want some tips for making easy and healthy school lunches. Click here.
Talk about food allergies
An estimated 8 percent of children under age 18 have some type of food allergy, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
One of the most important parents can do before a child goes back to school is talk to their child about food allergies, whether he or she has allergies or not, Dr. Wayne Shreffler, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Mass General Hospital said in an interview on the hospital’s website. Parents should tell their children not to share food and to let their teachers know whether they may have eaten something they might be allergic to, he said.
Some of the most common symptoms of a food allergy reaction is hives, itching, skin redness, wheezing, and stomach pain.
If your child has food allergies, 0ne good way of preventing an allergic reaction is to let school administrators know about their allergies before the school year starts.
Schedule an eye exam
Perhaps your children have been squinting in front of a television for a good part of the summer. Their time spent in front of the tube may have an impact on their vision. The best way to find out: schedule an eye exam. A typical eye exam consists of an opthalmologist performing a physical check of the eye and testing vision through an eye chart test . The earlier a vision problem is detected, the earlier it can be treated, according to the American Academy of Opthamology. Nearsightedness is the most common refractive error in school-age children and can be corrected with eyeglasses. Next
Reinstate family dinners
Research proves that regular family dinners provide physical, mental, and emotional benefits to children. Some of these benefits include better academic performance, higher self-esteem, and reduced risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression, and obesity.
Family dinners are a great time to ask your children about their day, and to discuss any issues they may be having at school, such as a less than average test score or even whether they are being bullied. Next
Pack sunscreen along with other school supplies
While the start of the school year may feel like it’s the end of summer, officially it’s not. It’s likely that for at least the first month of school, your child will be outside for recess. Keep children protected from the sun by packing them a small tube of sunscreen. A majority of sun exposure occurs during childhood and the American Medical Association encourages all schools to allow students to possess sunscreen at school without restriction. Ask if sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and other modes of sun protection are allowed during outdoor activities and if any permission is necessary. Next
Make sure vaccines are up to date
Vaccines are designed to prevent your children from getting diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine vaccination to prevent 17 vaccine-preventable diseases that occur in infants, children, adolescents, or adults. Since children may be exposed to a variety of people and pathogens while at school, it’s a good idea to make sure they’re up to date on their shots.
For a full list of the childhood immunization schedule, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
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