Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Is Preparing for Back to School Elementary?

Jay S. Rosenbloom, MD, PhD
August 31, 2011 08:45AM

The flurry of activity has begun. The pitter-patter of little shoes scampering into the schoolyards will soon be heard. With preparation and good common sense advice, back-to-school time can be, well, elementary.

- Make house rules: Now is the time to firm up the routine. Set a consistent bed time now as well as when and where homework will be done, as well as rules for how much time may be spent for TV, video or computer games, play time, extracurricular sports and other non-school activities.

- Back-to-School blues: Change in routines, tight household budgets, peer pressure and uncertainty about new schedules, activities and friends might leave some kids with anxiety about starting up the school year. The best advice is to establish and practice the first day of school routine. This includes adequate sleep and getting into the rhythm of getting a nutritional breakfast, picking out clothes, gathering items and meeting the bus on time. Parents can talk with their children and employ empathy to show encouragement for the new year and all that will come with it.

- School physical: Target this time of year to get your kids (and you!) caught up on your medical checkups for sports and for registration requirements. Schedule sports exams now, ahead of time, and make sure your student gets his/her vision screened.

- Educate and vaccinate: Also on the medical reminder list: Get your whole family updated on their immunizations. As proved in several scientific studies, vaccines pose very little risk and are one of the most important ways to protect your child’s health and exposure to disease. Check out http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ for the updated information.

- Backpacks: While they are practical, over-stuffing makes them too heavy, causing strain on small muscles and joints and poor posture. Experts say use both straps on shoulders and bring home only what is necessary each day.

- Educate school staff about special needs, medications, allergies and any health problems your children may have. Ensure you’ve completed the registration forms for your child’s school, and provided emergency contact information.

- Learn about your child’s school via the school’s Web site. Learn how your child’s teacher prefers to communicate (e-mail, phone, or written note). Parents can read the school handbook if one is available to get familiar with procedures for school closures, parent-teacher conferences, and reporting absences.

- Plan now for nutritious breakfasts and dinners and learn about the menus/offerings of the school cafeteria. Download the menus from the school’s Web site, where available, and help your student plan days when he/she will want to bring their own lunch.

- Make after-school plans that each member of the family can be clear about. Experts say the biggest challenge is over scheduling, making the student too tired to complete homework or eat properly. Also, ensure your child has memorized his/her home address and phone number for safety and precaution.

By Jay Rosenbloom, M.D.,PhD of Pediatric Associates of the Northwest P.C.