By: Pani Shoja, MD
Medical Director – Urgent Care Hawaii
Many students are already heading back to school. Though much of the focus is on backpacks, school clothes and supplies, now is the time to get everyone’s health in check and schedule routine doctor visits, school physicals and immunizations.
Here are some tips:
- Organize your child’s medical history records.
- Verify/update emergency contact information.
- Schedule medical and dental check-ups. Some children may need immunizations and vision and hearing tests. If your child will play sports, consider a sports checkup and schedule a sports physical. The American Academy of Pediatrics website provides information on immunizations.
- Complete a consent-to-treat form and give copies to school nurse to keep in your child’s record.
- Coordinate with the school nurse and your doctor to develop action plans for any health issues, including information related to prescription medications or medical problems such as asthma or food allergies and any physical restrictions that would prevent the child from participating in activities.
- Make sure your child knows how to telephone for help. Develop a family emergency plan in case something happens to or from school.
- Ease back into a sleep schedule for school – earlier to bed and earlier to rise. Begin a week before school starts and be consistent.
- Make sure children get plenty of outdoor exercise, fresh air and sunshine, every day.
- Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better in school, and they have more concentration and energy. Provide a healthy breakfast and lunch every day – high quality protein with fresh foods and healthy snacks.
- A child’s backpack should weight no more than 20% of their body weight. Consider a rolling backpack or wheeled suitcase.
• Stock the pantry with high quality foods such as unsalted almonds, baked chips, hummus, almond butter, whole grain chips or tortillas.
• Fill the fridge with plenty of fresh fruit, eggs, carrots, celery, low-fat turkey, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, unsweetened apple sauce.
• Add variety to every meal so kids don’t get bored. Yet, always provide their healthy favorite snacks.
• Offer only healthy beverage options: water, non-sweetened juices, almond milk – no soda.
• For some, the first day of school can be a trying time. Go with them for the first few days. Drive your child or walk with them. Point out positive aspects, such as making new friends and seeing old friends.
• Find another family in the neighborhood with whom you can car pool with. Give your child opportunities to make new friends.
• Check in often with your child’s teacher and let the teacher know you expect your child to have a positive school experience.
• Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions. Be on the lookout for bullying. Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
• Develop good homework and study habits. Provide a consistent quiet work space.
• Help the child learn skills to help balance home life, school, social activities, sports, and extracurricular pursuits. Remember to build in “fun time” every day!
Back-to-school checkups are often the only visit many kids and teenagers have with their pediatrician or family doctor every year. If your child needs medical attention, visit one of Urgent Care Hawaii’s four locations: Pearl City, Kapolei, Waikiki and Kailua. www.ucarehi.com