Six Back to School Health Tips for Kids and Parents

Back-to-school-health-tipsIt’s that time! You survived the summer with the kids at home 24/7. And even though the weather may not show it here in Santa Fe, summer is almost over. It’s back to school time already. In a few weeks, more than 50 million students will head back into the classrooms. Now is the perfect time to get your family’s health checked. While your kids may be focusing more on back to school clothes and back to school supplies, it’s equally important, if not more important, to schedule a routine doctor visit to make sure your child’s health is ready to encounter this school year’s latest health concerns. Here are 6 easy Back to School Health Tips to help your family easily transition back into the new school year.


1. Organize Your Medical Records

Make sure the emergency medical contact information is up to date with your child’s school. Also complete a consent-to-treat form and give copies to your school nurse and any day care providers in case they are ever taken to the ER. This form should include information related to medical problems, medications and previous surgeries or injuries. Personal Medical History forms and Consent to Treat forms can be downloaded here.


2. Schedule an Annual Checkup

Annual checkups for your child should be done before each new school year to make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date. Consider vision and hearing tests and a sports physical if your child will be playing sports. Most pediatrician’s offices are crowded with patients the week before school starts. If you don’t want to face the crowds, consider doing an annual checkup at your local Santa Fe urgent care clinic as an easy solution.


3. Establish a Sleep Schedule & Reduce Screen Time

After a summer without strict bedtime deadlines, it can be a challenge to enforce a healthier sleep schedule for your child. The sooner your child establishes a new, back to school sleep routine, the easier it will be for the whole family. Start by going to bed an hour earlier each night, one or two weeks BEFORE the start of school. Shut down the computers, iPhones and televisions about 45 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light from these screens alerts your brain and actually keeps you awake longer. Keep the same sleep time schedule for weekdays AND weekends. Also have your child avoid caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine’s half life is 8-10 hours so consider that before giving your child a soda at 4pm. These are not only good guidelines to setup during the first few weeks back to school but also to follow throughout the school year.


4. Eat Right

With less structure and more downtime, many kids fall into bad summer eating habits. It’s important for your child’s immune system to get the right amount of nutrients by eating healthy foods at every meal. Help your child to create a new habit of getting back to eating three regular meals a day. Sitting down as a family will help your child to reset the routine. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies and get a small ice pack and insulated lunch bag for more variety with school lunches. And always remember, eating a healthy breakfast is crucial for your child’s daily success.


5. Get Active

Exercise is another key to keeping a healthy immune system this school year. Keep track of how your family spends time together each week. Find two 30 minute time slots when your family can be do activities together either after school or on the weekends. Whether it’s taking a family walk after dinner or dancing in the morning getting ready for school, doing it together as a family will help set an example and form a new habit of getting some physical activity as part of your child’s daily routine. Get creative and take turns incorporating each family members favorite activity once a week and find new ways to exercise as a family as a family.


6. Keep It Positive!

Most children need help with the back to school transition when going back to routine with deadlines after a summer of mindless fun. Many children get nervous if starting a new grade or new school. This will be an adjustment period for them. Focus on reminding them of the positive things about going back to school such as meeting new friends, getting involved in new activities or sports, and buying new school supplies. If possible, it’s hugely beneficial for parents to be at home at the end of the school day during the first week back. If that’s not possible, try to arrange your schedule in the evenings so that you can give your kids as much time as they need during those first few days. Showing them how to seamlessly ease into this transition teaches them how to navigate bigger life transitions as an adult.