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What can I do to ensure that my children are healthy and ready for school?

To make sure your kids have everything they need for a successful school year, use the health and safety checklist below.
  • Immunizations: Check that your kids have the recommended (and often required) immunizations before the school year begins.
  • Annual physical: It’s a good idea for all kids to have a yearly checkup to make sure they are in good health,including vision and hearing tests.
  • Avoid backpack overload: Kids carry a lot of stuff. A backpack that is too heavy, poorly constructed or worn incorrectly can injure muscles and joints, cause neck or back strain and lead to fatigue. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that backpacks not exceed 10 to 20 percent of a child’s weight.
  • Get back on track: For many kids, summer break means staying up later and sleeping in. Do yourself and your kids a favor by gradually getting them back on their school schedules.
  • Prepare kids to get back into the school routine after a carefree summer. Discuss when and where homework will be done, make after-school care arrangements (including a backup plan) and determine how kids will get to extracurricular activities.
  • Keep schedules realistic: Sports, clubs and other after-school activities are a great way to keep kids active and engaged, but too much can be unhealthy. Over-scheduling can lead to stress, fatigue and anxiety; over-training for sports can cause injuries, such as stress fractures.
  • Make lunch healthy: If your child brings lunch to school, include fruit or veggies and a lean protein, such as chicken or turkey.
  • Provide important information: Make sure the school has current, accurate contact information for you, other emergency contacts and your child’s doctor. Let the school know of any medications your child takes, as well as any medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or allergies to bees, peanuts or latex.
  • Talk it over. Take time every afternoon or evening to ask your child about his or her school day. Ask about lessons, what they learned that was new or interesting, favorite and least favorite parts of the day and so on.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.