Your essential back-to- school health checklist

Jul 22, 2016

Millions of children will soon be packing away their swimsuits, dusting off their backpacks, and heading back to school. While shopping for new clothes and school supplies, don’t forget about one of the most important things you can do to help your child start the year off right—making sure they’re healthy and physically ready for the school year. Start your child’s year on the right track with this handy back-to- school health checklist.

Get immunized

Make sure that all of your child’s immunizations are up-to- date. Not only will this important step protect your child from potentially serious illnesses, but many schools won’t admit a child without a current vaccination record. Meet with your child’s primary care physician to find out which vaccines or boosters they may need. The Centers for Disease Control also offers a recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule for students of all ages.

Get a physical exam

An annual check-up helps ensure your child is at their healthiest for the upcoming school year. A complete physical should include a physical assessment, vision and hearing tests, and screening for common childhood health issues. Write down any questions you may have ahead of time so you remember ask them during the appointment.

If your child plays sports, consider having a concussion baseline test done. This test marks what normal brain activity looks like before any injury occurs, giving doctors a baseline to compare against should an injury occur as a result of a blow to the head. This is particularly important for children who play contact sports.

Update emergency contact information

Make certain the school has an up-to- date list of all emergency contact numbers for each of your children, including contact info for parents, secondary caregivers, physicians, etc. In the event of an emergency, quick communication is key.

Communicate any health issues

Alert the school about any health conditions, allergies or physical impairments your child may have. Even if you’ve provided this information during a previous school year, it’s important to make sure the information the school has is up-to- date. Also inform the school about any medications your child takes.

If your child has a life-threatening health issue, such as asthma or food allergies, be sure that both your child’s teacher and the school nurse are knowledgeable about the approved action plan in the case of an emergency.

Create a healthy sleep schedule

According to the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children need 9-11 hours of sleep per night to support their rapid development and prepare them for a day in the classroom. Get your kids on a regular sleep schedule—including both bedtime and wake-up time—before the school year begins. It will make the adjustment much easier.

Check for backpack basics

Ill-fitting or overloaded backpacks are one of the most common culprits of back and shoulder pain in children. Make sure your child’s backpack fits properly and does not weigh more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight when full. A proper backpack should have two broad shoulder straps, a padded back, and a chest or waist strap which keeps the bag firmly on the spine. Ensuring your child is using an appropriate backpack now can help avoid problems down the road.

Completing this easy back-to- school health checklist is a great way to help your child start the new school year on the right foot and set them up for a year of success.