Health and Wellness: Back to School

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August 7, 2014 by Nancy O. Wood, MD, FAAP

Is it time to go back to school already? It feels like we just celebrated the Fourth of July! Wow! What an exciting time for children, teenagers, and especially their parents!
There are many health and wellness issues to consider during this special time of year. Here are a few topics that parents should keep in mind when preparing to send their children back to school.
Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date. This will protect your child and your family. Your pediatrician should be able to tell you whether your child needs any vaccines prior to starting school. Typically, children need vaccines before Pre-K or kindergarten (4 or 5-years-old) and before 6th grade (11-years-old). The state of Alabama uses a Blue Card as proof of vaccination. The Blue Card is kept on file at each school. 
Review medications that your child may need during school. Most schools have a school-specific form that has to be completed for a child to take medication during school hours. It is important to make sure these forms are on file by the first day of school to prevent any delay in care. If your child has a medication that she carries with her (such as an inhaler), the start of the school year is a good time to review proper storage and use of the medication with both the child and her teacher. 
Talk to your child about stopping the spread of germs. Even kindergarteners know that they do not want to catch a cold from their friends! Having a simple discussion with your child about washing his hands and not drinking after his friends can help keep him healthy. 
A good night’s sleep is of utmost importance to your child’s success in school. For younger children, a bedtime routine is a helpful way to ensure a restful night. Going through the same motions each night before bedtime (such as taking a bath, reading a book, and then lights out), can help your child fall asleep and rest well during the night. Older children should also have some bedtime rules; it is especially important that electronics should be kept out of the bedroom. No TV, phone, tablet, or computer use after a predetermined time will be beneficial in the long run. 
These are just a few of the topics that are important to a healthy start to the school year. For answers to other health and wellness issues regarding your child, contact his or her pediatrician.
Have a safe and happy school year!
Nancy O. Wood, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Associates of Mobile, PA

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