Back-to-School Health Homework
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The days of summer are becoming shorter and the first day of school is just around the corner. Beyond the brand new school supplies, there are other ways parents can prepare their children for the new school year.Get Up-to-Date Vaccinations
Back-to-school time is a great time to ensure all of your child’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
“We also honestly encourage people not to wait for the rush of summer for annual exams, but if you haven't already gotten an annual exam during the school year, get them now,” Children’s National Health System’s Lee Beers, MD, said.
To ensure your child is up-to-date on their vaccinations, make an appointment with your child’s primary care physician. Not having the proper vaccines could cause your child to get sick and miss valuable school time. Dr. Beers also suggests scheduling a flu shot at this time too.
Go to the Doctor for an Annual Check-Up
Getting an annual check-up is a great way for you and your primary care physician to discuss the health and development of your child. It’s important to return to the same provider every year because he or she will likely pick up on small changes in your child’s health that may go unnoticed to a new provider.
Schedule a Sports Physical Exam
Annual check-ups are a great way to determine your child’s overall health. But if your child is into sports, physicals are a great way to reveal any unknown risk factors or detect injuries and diseases.
Make sure to let your doctor know about any family history of heart disease, fainting or shortness of breath after exercise. Your child may require further evaluation by a pediatric cardiologist.
“Remember, your primary care doctor is available year-round to answer questions about health and development that may come up during the school year,” Beers said.
Regulate Sleep Schedule
Finally, it’s very important to make sure your child is well-rested. Warm, summer nights and relaxed schedules disrupt a child’s routine of waking up early for school. Gradually help the child adjust to an earlier sleep and wake schedule so that they’ll be ready for the new school year.
About the Expert
Lee BeersMedical Director for Municipal and Regional Affairs, Child Health Advocacy Institute
Lee Beers, MD, is a community pediatrician who has always placed a high value on the health and well-being of children, especially those children in Washington, DC. She has also taken a very active role in advocating for and developing mental health support and programming for children in Washington, DC.