It’s that time of year again, when the back to school excitement abounds our family circles. New classroom…new teacher…new friends… And while kids are getting psyched up for all the changes right around the bend, Mom and Dad are consumed with back to school shopping and pick-up & drop-off schedules. Amidst all the August anxiousness, it’s easy to overlook what can really make a difference in your child’s school year: their health.
Studies have shown that a child’s physical fitness can affect their learning, behavior, and performance in school. Besides making sure kids stay physically active throughout the school day, here are some other health checkpoints to include in your August back to school prep list that are well worth your time (even if you aren’t a tiger mom):
The Back To School Health Checklist
Get Their Eyes and Ears Checked
According to Pamela Gallin, Director of Ophthalmology at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, one out of twenty kids in the U.S. can’t see out of one eye. And although hearing issues aren’t as common, hearing loss can cause a child to struggle in school. Instead of waiting until Lil Joey brings home a D and an F in Math, you can get ahead of the game and have their eyes and ears checked before they go back to school. By being proactive, you can potentially save your child from underperforming due to not being able to hear a lesson or see the board.
This might be a given, but sometimes parents forget when their child’s next shots are due. There are still cases of mumps and measles cases reported in the U.S. today. A highly contagious disease is something your child and your family can do without. Recovery time can cost your child two weeks of missed school— and missed work for you. In your back to school checklist, include a reminder to review your child’s immunization record just in case they are due for any boosters. If they are between the ages of 5 and 9, chances are they are up to date. Last set of boosters are typically administered between ages 3 and 4 and resume at 10 years of age.
As you probably read in our blog about Texas allergies, there is no real allergy ‘season’ in Texas per se, because in Texas, allergens hit us year-round. And because 55% of Americans test positive for one or more allergens, it’s best to get your child checked before they go back to school. When you’re armed with the right knowledge, treatments and medications ahead of time, you can quickly relieve your child of congestion, foggy brain, headaches, and any the other allergy symptoms that may keep them from performing at their best.
Plan a Rotation of Nutritious Lunches
Lunch planning is a common complaint among moms: “I have no idea what to make Lil Joey except PB&J sandwiches.” But remember: food is fuel! Incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your child’s diet is essential to their wellbeing and academic success. Consider the flip side—childhood obesity has been linked to poor school performance. Even if your child isn’t obese, they may start to underperform if they aren’t eating right. Sugary drinks and sweets during lunch can cause their blood sugar to spike and then drop. This can disrupt their focus. Before the summer’s over, why not plan a 10- to 15-day rotation of nutritious lunches consisting of grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables? Once you get your rotation together, you no longer have to think about what to make during the school year.
Shoes and School Bags
You can prevent unnecessary injuries by making sure your kids are dressed for safety. Most schools enforce closed toe shoes to keep toes and feet safe in highly active playgrounds and classrooms. If not, this is one easy precaution to implement that can prevent trips to the doctor. Also, if your child’s school requires brick-heavy textbooks, buy a rolling backpack instead of the traditional backpack so you don’t have to worry about spinal and posture issues long-term.
→ Can’t think of any healthy lunches to make? See our blog about 5 superfoods that you can incorporate in your lunches to boost your child’s immune system.