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Check the Health To-Do List Before School Starts

Kids are packing their backpacks and heading back to school. Are you prepared? Here are 5 tips you need to know.

For kids, back-to-school means many things: catching up with friends about what they did during their summer vacation, shopping for new clothes and school supplies, and trying to hold onto that last bit of summer before the first day of school arrives.

But for parents there are a few more items that need to be checked off the to-do-list before heading to the bus stop.

1. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, marking the time to upgrade any missing vaccines from your child’s immunization record, so make your appointment now with your child’s pediatrician if you know their shots are overdue.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics young children under the age of 6 need to get a series of shots to protect against measles, polio, chicken pox, and hepatitis.

Pre-teens ages 11 or 12 need inoculations to help protect against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, meningitis, and HPV (human papillomavirus).

Jane Samuels, R.N. advises, “Students entering 6th grade who are 11 years old are required to have the Tdap vaccination.”

Teens require a booster shot at 16 to help protect against meningitis. Yearly flu shots are also recommended for children of all ages.

For a complete and detailed schedule take a look at the following immunization chart for children ages 0-6 and kids 7-18.

2. Besides shots children should also be up to date with the eye doctor. Having the most current corrective prescriptions lenses will help them see the board clearly for accurate note-taking and successful studying practices.

3. If your child is on any prescription medication taken either at home or during the school day, make sure the school nurse has this information on file, has the appropriate forms filled out by your child’s pediatrician if administered at school, and that all medication is in the original pharmacy bottle and clearly labeled.

Also make sure your child’s teachers are aware of any allergies, asthma, or any other special needs that your child may have and that their emergency contact information is up to date.

4. Backpack safety is also something to take into consideration. Weigh your child’s backpack to check how much weight they are carrying around. If too heavy backpacks could cause not only neck, back, or shoulder strain but injury as well. 

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that a child's backpack weigh no more than 10-15 percent of his or her body weight. They also advise if possible to use a backpack with wheels that the child could pull or a knapsack with wide padded shoulder straps and padded back panel to reduce the stress of heavy school books.

5. Starting a new school year means getting back on schedule and getting used to a new sleep pattern and perhaps even meal time. Making sure your child gets the required sleep they need and proper nutrition to get them through the day while boosting their energy level and concentration is key to their success in the classroom.

Samuels says, “Make sure your child eats during the school day and makes healthy choices.” As for sleep Samuels recommends that “teens get 8.5 hours of sleep a night and younger children at least 10 hours.”


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