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Send Your Kids Back to School in Tip-top Health

Your child’s body needs a tune-up before school begins.

healthy children going back to schoolYour child’s body needs a tune-up before school begins so she’ll start the new school year in good health. Make sure you pay attention to:

Vision

A visit to the eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam is an important part of overall health. According to a survey by the American Optometric Association, 81 percent of K-12 teachers believe vision and learning are interdependent. Invest in one-piece wrap-around polycarbonate sports frames for protection if your child will participate in contact sports.

Immunizations 

Be sure to schedule an annual physical checkup and review any missed or new immunizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics website explains childhood vaccinations, advising which ones are needed at what age. If you have recently moved from another state, check with a pediatrician to see if your child complies with New Jersey’s regulations.

Medication

Does your child take medicines on a regular basis for a chronic problem? If so, be sure to tell the school nurse and his teacher about any ongoing health problems, especially if they’re the people who will need to administer the medicine. Speak with them before school begins and work out an emergency action plan.

Hearing

Get your child’s hearing tested. If your child is listening to the television or music at a loud volume, or tends to favor one ear over the other when listening, it may be a sign of hearing loss.

Emergency contacts

Make sure your child’s emergency telephone number card at school is accurate and current with landline and cell phones. If you move or change or add a number, update it the next day. Your child’s physician and dentist need to be listed with the school.

Anxiety

Is your child apprehensive about the new school year? Remind your child that he is not the only student who is uneasy about the first day of school. If your child continues to be anxious after a few weeks, bring this to the attention of his teacher.

Backpacks

Watch out for excessive weight. The AAP advises parents not to strap a jumbo backpack on their children—never more than 20 percent of your child’s body weight. Some children may even prefer a rolling bag. Make sure all backpacks have wide straps for support and that your child puts the pack over both shoulders.

When you take your child for a medical checkup, plan ahead with these 10 tips to optimize your time in the doctor’s office:

  1. Make a list of the medicines your child is taking. Include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, and supplements (such as protein drinks).
     
  2. Write down important facts about your child’s health, including allergies, chronic illnesses, and any past surgeries, broken bones, or emergencies.
     
  3. Know your child’s weight and height. This is great information to have as many medications are often given by weight. NOTE: these numbers can change as your child grows, so use them only as guidelines.
     
  4. Bring current health insurance cards.
     
  5. Jot down questions or concerns that you—or your child—may have about her health. Make three copies of this list: One for you, one for your doctor, and one to give the office manager at the front desk to update your child’s file.
     
  6. Communicate with your child’s doctor. Speak up when you have something to say; be aware of your role as your child’s advocate. Ask questions when you don’t understand something, whether it’s a medical term or medication directions.
     
  7. Bring a pad and pen to take notes, so you don’t forget what the doctor tells you.
     
  8. Make sure you (and your child if she’s old enough) understand important information such as medication directions, how to use an inhaler or other medical devices, or what to do if your child is referred to another doctor. Check your understanding by saying, “Okay. Let me make sure I’ve got this right,” and repeat back the instructions in your own words.
     
  9. Remember to get school, daycare, and athletic forms signed!
     
  10. If you go home and realize you have an additional question, contact your doctor immediately and ask for clarification.

Sources: Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Say Ah!.

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