Back To School Health Tips
As summer winds down, families are getting ready for a new school year. In addition to buying school supplies and the latest fashions, parents also need to ensure that their kids start the school year in a healthy way. Here are some tips to ensure your child has a safe and healthy school year.
- Check with your doctor to confirm that your child has received the recommended vaccinations.
For children attending school in Ontario a written immunization record or proof of immunization for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella is required by law unless there is a valid written exemption.
- Get a complete eye exam before your child starts school.
Proper vision is key to the developmental process and performance in school. There are many tasks that depend on visual skills, such as reading, writing and computer assignments, which children are expected to perform daily. However, studies show that 86 percent of children return to the school year without any eye checkup.
- Be sure your child wears a properly fitted bicycle helmet.
Everyone, including adults, should wear a helmet every time a bicycle is ridden. However, it is not enough to just wear a helmet. A helmet needs to fit properly in order to provide the highest level of head protection and should always be worn with the chin strap fastened.
- Plan healthy snacks.
Childhood obesity is a problem in North America. By shopping carefully, parents can get their children started in healthy eating habits. Young children actually need snacks. Their stomachs are small, so they often can’t get all the nutrients they need in a day through regular meals alone.
- Get started early with a school bedtime schedule.
During the summer, many children fall into a vacation rhythm, staying up late and sleeping in. Sleep specialists recommend that parents start gradually imposing an earlier bedtime several weeks before school begins.
- Prevent back pain caused by backpacks.
Parents need to ensure children are not having back pain as a result of carrying a backpack to school. Parents should look for packs with individual compartments and put heaviest items closest to the body. Sharp objects like pencils should be in smaller pockets on the outside. School back packs should have two shoulder straps and your child should use both.
- Car safety remains a top priority.
Transport Canada recommends keeping all children under 13 years of age in the back seat. This is of particular importance in cars that have air bags in the front seat, as front air bags can cause serious injuries to children. Advanced air bags that use sensors to determine the weight of the person in the front seat CANNOT be relied upon to prevent the air bag from deploying while your child is in the front seat. Transport Canada also recommends that parents keep their children in booster seats as long as possible.
- Keep Sick Kids Home.
Parents should keep children from school if they have a fever – even if they otherwise feel fine. Generally, a child should stay home until the fever has been gone for 24 hours without medication. Colds can be contagious for at least 48 hours. If you’re unsure about the best way to treat your child’s cold or flu, ask your doctor, school nurse or other healthcare provider.
- Teach your kids the importance of hand washing.
Regular hand washing is one of the single best ways to fight infection. Younger children should be instructed in the importance of proper hand washing before eating and after using the restroom. For situations where hand washing is not possible, consider supplying your child with packets of hand sanitizing gel.
- Talk with your child to understand their emotions.
School age children can feel as much pressure as adults. Pressure related to school work, pressure to succeed, pressure to qualify for sports and pressure to make parents proud can lead to depression or other mental health disorders. Maintain a strong connection and engage with your kids consistently. Make a point to spend time with them daily and talk about their activities and interests. Listen to what they say. Let them know you are interested in what they think and how they feel. Let them know they can always feel comfortable talking to you.