Prepping the Kids for Another School Year
posted by Orem Family Medicine Team | August 29, 2016
As your kids hound you mercilessly for this year’s back-to-school must-have, you’ve probably got more on your mind than an on-trend outfit or backpack. With so much already on your plate, you certainly don’t need a longer to-do list. Here are a few simple and effective things you can do to ensure a smooth and comfortable transition back to class.
Some children find returning to school especially challenging, and the anxiety can result in physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches if it goes unacknowledged. Be sensitive to your little one’s unique vulnerabilities, and try to normalize what they are feeling. Use reassuring statements like: “Yeah, I can understand why you’re nervous about a new school year. I remember I used to feel the same way every fall. A lot of kids are feeling what you’re feeling.”
Start prepping your family for a new daily schedule during the last few weeks of summer. Re-introduce an appropriate bedtime, and make sure your late sleepers get up earlier in the morning. Help children practice dressing and grooming shortly after rising, and feed them breakfast, lunch and snacks at the same time they will eat them on school days. These changes help children of all ages become familiar with the rituals of a school-day routine.
KidsHealth states that the transition often goes more smoothly if parents can be home at the end of the school day for the first week. If your career does not allow such flexibility, “try to arrange your evenings so you can give kids as much time as they need, especially during those first few days.”
Help kids organize their clothes and fill their backpacks with books and homework the night before. This allows them to roll out the door after a nutritious breakfast and minimizes morning chaos.
Ensure the safety of your children while they are at school by addressing these questions:
1) Have your kids received all the necessary vaccinations required by your state for school children?
Check with your family doctor or pediatrician if you are unsure about what’s required.
The CDC reports that although “vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines . . . outbreaks still happen.”
The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 668 cases from 27 states reported . . . the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.”
From January 1 to June 13, 2016, “almost 6,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported to CDC by 50 states and Puerto Rico.”
The CDC recommends that preteens receive their first vaccination against meningitis at age 11 or 12 with a booster shot at 16.
2) Does the school have forms on file that provide emergency contact and health information? Are the teachers and nurses alerted to any special medical challenges your child may have such as food allergies, diabetes or asthma that may require attention during the school day?
3) Is an EpiPen always available so teachers and coaches can administer potentially life-saving help in the case of a severe allergic reaction?
4) Is the school nurse prepared to administer any medications your child might need?
5) Has it been a while since your child’s last eye exam? 80 percent of classroom learning is visual, so a comprehensive exam is important for early detection of vision issues that interfere.
6) Is your star athlete chomping at the bit to get back to the court, field, track or ice? Before he or she jumps into twice-daily practices in high heat, line up a periodic evaluation with your orthopedic physician or a full physical with your family doctor. Signs of overuse or other potential problems can be spotted in advance to ward off a more serious injury that may require surgery.
Most kids are re-acclimated to the school-year routine within two or three weeks. A bit of organized preparation mixed with a large dose of patience ensures that the whole family will be back in the school-year groove in no time.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.