Whether your child is entering school for the first time or about to begin his or her senior year, now is the perfect time to prepare your child for the upcoming school year. Starting with a head-to-toe checkup and making sure your child is current on required immunizations will ensure that the year ahead is healthy and productive for young scholars.
A list of immunizations
One of the best ways to ensure a successful start to the school year is making sure your child is healthy. Children who miss school because of illness often fall behind and have a hard time catching up to the rest of the class. Making sure your child has the proper immunizations can protect him or her from common childhood diseases and other contagious illnesses throughout the school year.
Most school-aged children receive several required vaccinations at ages 4 or 5, just before entering kindergarten. Students entering seventh grade also must have the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) booster shot before entering school. A Tdap vaccination protects against whooping cough, a highly-contagious bacterial disease that can cause children to make a whooping sound as they gasp for breath.
Other immunizations can protect against chicken pox, Hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). A flu vaccine available starting in mid to late October also can prevent your child from catching the flu, which is highly contagious, and can help ward off outbreaks at school sites.
Get plenty of rest.
This also is a good time to get your child on a regular bedtime schedule. Children need at least 8 to 10 hours a sleep a night. Some may have a hard time adjusting to the early morning start of school, so it's a good idea to get them used to waking up early now. Encourage children to set an alarm so they are waking up at the same time every day. Having a restful night's sleep will lead to a more focused student.
Cut out the junk food
A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day will help children stay fit, trim and keep them energized. Starting the day with a healthy breakfast can reduce the urge to snack later on less nutritious items such as chips and cookies. Children also need a healthy lunch to sustain them throughout the school day. One of the most important things parents need to watch for when packing a school lunch is avoiding foods that are high in sugar.
Pack a bottle of water rather than juice or soda. Make sandwiches using whole-grain breads. Opt for low or non-fat dairy products. A healthy lunch doesn't necessarily need to come from home. Many school cafeterias are now offering healthier options such as salad bars, fresh fruit and foods lower in sodium or fat.
Deal with stress
For some students, the school year may bring on stress as they face dealing with new teachers, classmates and, in some cases, a new school. Stress can be normal, but if it happens too often or lasts too long, it can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, back pain and trouble sleeping.
It can also make your child moody, depressed or tense. Talk to your children about how they are feeling as they get closer to starting school. Make sure they know that there are ways to deal with their stress.
Teach them time management techniques. Help them to unwind with a hobby or a good book. Offer to work through problems together. If they are unwilling or uncomfortable speaking with you, suggest they talk to a school counselor or find a professional mental-health specialist for them to see.
For more information on ways to keep your children healthy and active throughout the school year, visit kp.org/fresno.
Most school-aged children receive several required vaccinations at ages 4 or 5.