As the remaining days of summer end and a new school year begins, HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital reminds parents that it is time to prepare their child for the new school year ahead.
The following back-to-school health tips are recommended to ensure a safe and healthy school year:
• Make sure your child is up to date on all vaccinations. Review your child's shot records and make sure that he/she is up to date on all shots before heading back to school. Preteens and teens require the Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough – among other immunizations. All children going back too primary, secondary or college should be vaccinated accordingly to protect from infectious diseases such as meningitis. And, don’t forget to schedule a flu shot later in the year for children.
• Obtain a physical. School and sports physicals are an important part of each school year, even if they are not mandated by the school. Yearly physicals enable your health care provider to monitor growth and development, update immunizations, determine risks for sports participation, and discuss safety issues.
• Handwashing. Before your child goes back to school make sure he/she understands the importance of proper handwashing. Soap and water can do wonders in reducing your child's risk of illness while at school. A child should wash his/her hands properly before eating and after using the restroom.
• Backpack safety. Choose a backpack with wide shoulder straps and make sure your child uses both straps evenly across the back. St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital physical therapist Sarah Geen reminds parents that having all the weight over one shoulder can lead to muscle strain. Children should always have straps over both shoulders. She also advises packing the bags lightly. A backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of a child’s body weight.
• Eat a healthy lunch. Most schools send school cafeteria menus home enabling you to plan your child’s lunches in advance. Pack a nutritious lunch on days your child prefers not to eat the school’s main course. Go over the menu with your child and discuss the nutritional value of what is being offered. Steer them away from soda and dessert and toward low-fat milk and fresh fruit.
• Get plenty of sleep. Make sure your child is getting an adequate amount of sleep at night to help aid in their overall health.
For more information on back-to-school health, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/kids.