Updated: Aug 19, 2022
It’s that time of year again—the kiddos are heading back to school! That means buying school supplies, planning lunches, and practicing waking up early. We know this can be a stressful time for many families, so we put together a list of health tips to help you prepare for the upcoming year. Follow these to make sure you and your kids are ready to have a safe (and fun!) school year.
1. Practice good hygiene.
Back to school means students get to see their friends again! Unfortunately, this means your child will be surrounded by more germs than they were when they were at home during the summer. To avoid picking up any illnesses from their classmates, remind your kids to practice good personal hygiene, including washing your hands after sharing toys, using the restroom, and before eating.
2. Stay up to date on vaccines.
It’s impossible for kids to completely avoid germs when they’re at school, but the best way to avoid contracting preventable diseases is to stay updated on vaccines, especially COVID-19 and influenza.
3. Talk to the school nurse.
If your child takes a medication or has an EpiPen or inhaler, make sure you talk to the school nurse prior to the beginning of the school year. This ensures that the nurse is aware of your student’s medical needs and can keep track of when and how they’re taking their medication. It also prepares the nurse in case of an asthma attack or allergic reaction, so they can provide your child with immediate help.
4. Consider medication packaging.
If your child takes more than one medication during the school day, you may want to consider medication packaging. Our pharmacy can organize your child’s medication by date and time to eliminate any missed or duplicate doses. They also come in easy-to-open packs that are perfect for on-the-go!
5. Prioritize nutrition.
Kids develop taste preferences young, and those tastes can stay with them for a long time. For most school-age children, aim to fill half of your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables every day. MyPlate.gov has lots of helpful tips for nutrition choices for any life stage.
6. Stay active.
Depending on the age of your child, the recommended amount of physical activity per day varies. According to the CDC, children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic – and activities that strengthen bones (like running or jumping) – 3 days each week, and that build muscles (like climbing or doing push-ups) – 3 days each week.1
Because children require daily physical activity, it’s important that they are also given the time they need to rest and recover.
7. Make a plan for emergencies.
Make sure your child knows their full name, parents’ full names, and phone number in case of an emergency. If they get separated from a trusted adult, make sure they know who to look for (teacher, school nurse, police officer, etc), and how to contact them, like dialing 9-1-1.
8. Get enough sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that school-aged children (ages 6-13) should sleep for a total of 9-11 hours every day. How much sleep a child needs can vary greatly within this age range, but younger children typically needs more sleep than middle schoolers and high schoolers.
9. Use sun protection.
Just because the weather is starting to cool down doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburnt! If your child is going to be playing outside at recess, be sure to apply sunscreen. When possible, the best protection from the sun is wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.2
10. Don’t forget about mental health.
Mental health is an important and often overlooked aspect of overall health. Between balancing homework, friends, and after school activities, kids can benefit from stress management techniques too, including:
Getting enough sleep
Maintaining a balanced diet
Spending time in nature
Writing out their thoughts and feelings
Talking with a trusted adult, like a parent or counselor
Practicing mindfulness exercises