It’s that time of year again, when you need to review your back to school health checklist for kids. Summer is quickly coming to an end, and preparation for the school year is starting to ramp up. As we transition from July into August, most parents start running through lists in their minds of everything they need to do before school starts. Hopefully, you have a number of health items on your lists.
In case you don’t, we want to provide you a quick reference for items to include on your back to school health checklist for kids. This list can serve as a good starting place for you as you think through a healthy start for the school year. While you might need to include more or less depending on your particular situation, this list can nonetheless provide a skeleton to build your own plan off of. Many times, we as parents, forget how important starting a new school year can be for our kids. If nothing else, this article can provide a helpful reminder to think ahead about your child’s health and the school year.
Take some time before the school year begins to think through the different changes that your child must make. Then sit down and use this list as a starting place to prepare a plan to make those transitions healthy and beneficial. Let’s discuss some key elements that you should consider including on your back to school health checklist for kids.
Schedule Your Physical Exam
First, as part of our back to school health checklist for kids we need to cover setting up an appointment for a physical exam. After all, you need to have regular checkups for your children. After age 5, though, it’s only recommended to have a physical once every two years unless your child plays sports. If your child plays sports, they should have a physical exam once a year. Before the start of school each year, you should review when the last time your child had a physical exam was. If it’s been two years, you should schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for a regular physical checkup for your child.
This appointment should be setup to give you a general overview of your child’s health and development. Again, for healthy children without noticeable illnesses or developmental issues, once every two years should be sufficient to give your pediatrician an idea of your child’s general health. Many times, parents only think of physicals in terms of needing it for sports. While having a physical is a requirement for any sports participation, each child still needs regular checkups.
Keep in mind the physical is the same as wellness check when your child was a new born. It serves the same role and provides the same necessary function in measuring overall health and well being. As a result, parents need to be sure not to skip the regular checkups.
Your pediatrician provides the best opportunity to catch illnesses or health concerns well in advance before they might become a serious risk. Also, if a health concern does exist that might negatively impact your child’s progress at school, you need to identify it before school starts to be sure to learn to manage the issue appropriately.
Check Your Vaccines
Secondly, you also need to include checking up on your child’s vaccines as part of the back to school health checklist for kids. One problem that inevitably comes up in households each school year is an increase in the instances of falling ill. From everything from the common cold to the flu to chick pox, schools act as a breeding ground for diseases. After all, kids love sharing things with one another, even to include that nasty stomach bug.
Before your child goes back to school, you need to give their bodies the necessary defenses against the worst of possible diseases. This means checking up on your child’s vaccination record and making sure they are up to date with their shots. No one likes getting shots. Getting shots, though, is much more preferable to potentially exposing your child to harmful pathogens.
At the end of summer, when you go to your child’s pediatrician for their physical, double check that your child has all the vaccines they need. Your child’s pediatrician can help you stay on top of what vaccines do what and when you need them and why. Ultimately, vaccines help protect everyone’s health. They help protect your child from catching viruses. At the same time, though, they also keep your child from unknowingly spreading disease to other kids at school.
Visit the Dentist and Eye Care Provider
Next, after covering everything with your pediatrician, you want to make appointments with your dentist and eye care provider. Sometimes in the rush to get so much done, we tend to forget about the dentist and eye care provider. We think that as long as we see our child’s pediatrician we should be covered. Unfortunately, while visiting your pediatrician is essential, that really isn’t enough to provide holistic care for meeting your child’s health needs. You need to also have regular checkups for vision and dental care.
When it comes to caring for your teeth, most experts recommend having a dental checkup at least once every six months. To make this easy for parents, you should think about scheduling appointments at the beginning of each semester, once in the beginning of the school year and once at winter break. This makes remembering to take your child to a dentist easier and helps make sure your child has a healthy smile after each longer break from school.
Seeing your eye care provider might be a little less regular than seeing your dentist. For school age children who don’t need corrective lenses, most experts might only recommend seeing a doctor once every two years. Ideally, though, you can base your frequency on the recommendations from both your pediatrician and your eye care provider. Your regular pediatrician can help gauge overall eye health and can recommend more regular visits if needed. If your child hasn’t seen an eye care provider in a few years, though, now before school begins is a good time to have their eyes checked.
Get New Gear
Fourthly, an aspect of your back to school health checklist for kids needs to involve getting critical new gear for your child’s school year. Children grow constantly. They outgrow clothes and shoes sometimes multiple times a year. Depending on your child’s personality, they may or may not let you know every time they need a new set of shoes. They might not even think of it themselves.
In reality, though, shoes that don’t fit and small clothing can be both a distraction and detriment to growth and learning. Additionally, research has hinted that what we choose to wear might impact how we think and focus and how well we might perform at tasks such as taking an exam. For parents then, you need to think of the start of the school year as an excellent opportunity to check if your child needs either new clothes or new shoes. More than likely, you will need to invest in getting something new for them to wear.
Additionally, you really need to make sure that your child has a new backpack that is the right size for them. Backpacks that are too big and too heavy can cause back problems and pain for your child. With the start of a new year, take extra time to buy a new backpack that they like that fits their age.
As school starts, help your child pack their bag and weigh it. If the backpack seems too heavy, work to find a way to cut down on the weight. Ask your child’s teacher for help as well to work out a system that works best for everyone. When your child has a new backpack and new gear, you help remove distractions and possible negative health side effects from their school day.
Practice Your Child’s School Sleep Routine
Another aspect of your back to school health checklist for kids needs to involve your child’s sleep routine. During the summer, when our kids have few responsibilities during the day, we can let our child’s sleep routine slip some. When it comes time to get ready for school, though, we really need to get our kids back into a regular habit of getting to bed on time.
At least two weeks before school begins, start implementing a sleep routine for the school year. Plan for your child to go to bed with enough time to get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Put in place boundaries on preparing for bed. For instance, you should make sure your child turns off electronics one to two hours before bed to help their minds settle and prepare for sleep. Also set times for getting into sleepwear, brushing teeth, and taking baths or showers as needed.
Next, think of the morning routine and when your kids need to get up. Make sure they wake up with enough time to get prepared for school and have a healthy well rounded breakfast. Also, you should make sure to provide enough time so that the mornings don’t feel chaotic and rushed. You want your child to have time to wake and get oriented so that they don’t feel stressed about the day ahead.
Once you have a good routine ready, start practicing it through at least a week before school begins. Practicing beforehand gives you the opportunity to work out any issues. It also makes it so that your child really feels refreshed and alert on their first day of school.
Get Prepared with Your Kid’s Diet
Finally, the last critical aspect of any back to school health checklist for kids needs to involve your child’s diet. Just like sleep, our rules around what our kids eat usually become a little more relaxed during the summer months. As a result, as you start to transition out of summer, you need to sit down with your kids and plan out healthy diet options.
More than likely your child won’t want to accept a healthy change to their diet. Additionally, rational reasoning probably won’t work on them. In lieu of that, you should encourage them to eat healthier with using creativity and providing them food options that actually taste good. The problem with healthy options, though, is that most of them are neither creative nor tasty. As a result, you as the parent will probably need to do a little more research and put more effort into a diet plan.
Before the school year begins, sit down and do some research. Look into some fun ideas for healthy snacks and meals. Consider things like what your child likes to eat and what they like about different colors or textures. Try to incorporate something of your child’s personality into the food options you choose.
The best approach might be to come up with a list of potential options for your child to consider. For different creative and fun ideas, take a look at the options at this link and in this article. Once you have several options selected for meals and snacks, go through them with your child and let your child pick ones they might want to keep and others they want to get rid of.
Getting Ready for the School Year with a Back to School Health Checklist for Kids
Preparing for a new school year can be hectic and stressful for both kids and parents alike. After having the time off during the summer, sometimes you struggle to even get back in the school mindset as the school year approaches. Changing your mindset, though, can be the least of your worries. You have to meet new teachers, get new school supplies, figure out new schedules, and make sure your child prepares mentally for the new challenges. Just thinking about everything you need to do can leave you exhausted.
We hope this article at least helps give you the basic framework of what to consider when it comes to your child’s health. With so much going on with a new school year, it can be easy to put off or forget about the health checkups and screenings. To set your child up for success, though, you really should make health items a priority. If all else fails, start with your child’s pediatrician and with a brief check-in. Your pediatrician can then help guide you on making sure you cover your bases when it comes to an effective back to school health checklist for kids.