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Get Ready for School With This Health Checklist

It won’t be long before the bus arrives to pick up your children for the first day of the new school year. There’s no time like now to start preparing for that day. Your to-do list should include some important things in support of your children’s health and well-being.

Follow this health checklist and your child will be ready and alert for the first day of school and all year:

1. Find out about required immunizations. Contact your child’s school and ask about vaccinations your child will need. Many school websites have a page of health-related requirements.

2. Get back in the school routine. Don’t wait until the day before school starts to get your children on their school year sleep and meal schedule. In the weeks leading up to the big day, gradually move up the bedtime so your child is back in the school sleep routine when school resumes. While re-establishing the mealtime routine, it’s especially important to restore the breakfast schedule so children have time for a good meal to start the day. Studies show that’s important for their ability to learn all day.

3. Get plenty of sleep. For good health and to get the most out of their education, kids need to be ready to learn on the first day of school and all year. That means getting the right amount of sleep every day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 6-12 get 9 to 12 hours of sleep, and teenagers 13-18 get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

4. Develop a plan for sick days. Make sure you have a plan for when your child is sick and needs to stay home. You’ll probably need to use it at some point during the school year. Never send your child to school with a fever, which is our body’s natural response to infection. They could be contagious and could cause other children and adults to become sick.

5. Teach children the importance of avoiding germs. Show them how to wash their hands and talk to them about the importance of washing their hands frequently. Teach them to cough and sneeze into the inside of their elbow rather than into their hands.

6. Get a checkup every year. Every child should have a physical with his or her doctor once a year. The summer is a great time for an appointment so your child doesn’t miss school. This important well-child exam can identify health problems, including hearing and vision issues. If your child is entering pre-kindergarten or kindergarten or moving to a new school, they may be required to have a physical. Check with your school or school district.

If your child wants to play a high school sport, they need to pass a sports physical exam before being allowed to practice. A sports physical can be part of a child’s regular well-child checkup, though it does require a separate medical evaluation form.

7. Pay attention to mental health. If you have any concerns about your child’s mental health, discussing them with your child’s doctor is a great first step. Learn about possible concerns in Mental Health Warning Signs in Children and Adolescents. If you can begin addressing potential problems before the school year, it will help your child.

Additional Resources

Help prepare your child with more back-to-school tips, including what to do if your child is nervous before the first day, how to choose a good backpack, and rules for traveling safely to and from school.

Learn how you can start new habits that will help your children grow and develop properly, perform better in school, and feel better overall at Five Small Starts to Becoming a Healthier Family.

Find out why health checkups are crucial to a lifetime of well-being.