Seven tips for a healthy and safe school year
It's nearly fall and this is an extremely busy time for families with children and teens. Getting back into the swing of school can be exciting -- yet stressful in some households. As a parent, I remember the days of shopping for school clothes and mastering that long list of school supplies. Finding all those multicolor folders can be particularly challenging!
As a pediatrician, this time of year I enjoy talking to my patients and families about the keys to launching a successful school year. Based upon my experience, here are seven tips for parents who want their child to get a healthy start for the first days of school. A healthy child is much more likely to excel in school performance.
1.) Make sure your child has a wellness and or sports physical with their pediatrician. It's our annual chance to check-in with patients and catch any issues, large or small, impacting their health and readiness for school and sports.
2.) Make sure your child's vaccinations are up-to-date. This year, in particular, all children and teens should be returning to school immunized against COVID.
3.) Keep up to date on COVID levels in your community. I encourage wearing masks in schools, if levels of COVID are moderate to high. Also remind your child of the importance of washing their hands and social distancing to stay safe.
4.) Make sure your child is ready to learn. Take time to eat a healthy breakfast and regular bedtimes ensure they get 8-9 hours of sleep each night. If your child has trouble sleeping, your pediatrician can recommend a pediatric sleep medicine physician to help.
5.) Be a parent who supports your child's learning. Make sure they have the school supplies they need and provide them the time and support required for homework. Be your child's best cheerleader, build their confidence and routinely applaud their achievements.
6.) Make sure you have discussed safety in getting to and from school. Teach them how to cross the road safely and to wear bike helmets, if riding there.
7.) Check in regularly on your child's mental health. Look for any signs that your son or daughter may be struggling at school or with peer relationships. If you are concerned, reach out to your child's pediatrician. We can help assess what may be going on and connect you with resources to help.
Parents should remember that your pediatrician is a partner in keeping children and teens healthy, happy and safe. Encourage your children, especially teens, to reach out and ask questions of their physician during visits to their offices. We're here to ensure the 2022 fall school year is off to a great start.
• Dr. Julie Holland is a practicing pediatrician at NorthShore University HealthSystem and vice president of pediatric primary care for the Chicagoland Children's Health Alliance, a partnership between Advocate Children's Hospital, UChicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital and pediatrics at NorthShore University HealthSystem. For more information, visit www.advocatechildrenshealth.com.