A Healthy Start to the School Year

Kim D. Ariyabuddhiphongs, MD

AUGUST 30, 2017

Healthy Start

The signs are all around us. Days are getting shorter, nights are taking on a familiar chill and shops are advertising the latest fall trends. Yup, the dog days of summer are turning into the start of the school year. So how can you make sure your family starts the year off right? Below are six tips to help you make the grade.

Schedule Medical Exams: It's always smart to get a proper health check-up before the start of the school year. From eye exams to vaccines to general health, taking care of this important task now helps make for a smoother transition once school begins. Check-ups are also a good opportunity to talk with your doctor to make sure you are up to date on necessary medicines. And of course, make sure to inform teachers and the school nurse if your child has any allergies, physical restrictions or other health conditions.

Prepare a Healthy Lunch: The start of the school year is a busy time for both kids and parents alike. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice healthy habits. The USDA offers many great recipes for nutritious lunches and snacks. And with a little planning, prepping meals in advance can make it easy to eat healthy during the week. For example sauces, casseroles and soups can be cooked in larger portions over the weekend to be frozen and reheated as a healthy week-night meal. And chopped up vegetables make for easy salads and sides. It’s also important to remember that a healthy mealtime schedule can help with a healthy sleep schedule, which brings us to our next tip…

Get on a Good Sleep Cycle: Summer's long days make it easy to stay up late and miss out on a good night’s rest. But getting the right amount of sleep — eight hours for adults eight to ten hours for kids — is important for both body and mind. It’s also helpful to remember that TV, phones and computers make it more difficult to fall asleep at night because of the light they emit. So it’s best to avoid these types of devices at least an hour before bedtime.

Plan Fun Activities to Keep Active: Back to school shouldn’t only mean homework, errands and a strictly scheduled routine. It’s also an important time to get out and get active! Sign up for a team sport, take a dance class or plan an after dinner walk. Just make sure to leave some free time in your schedule to relax and unwind.

Help Prevent the Spread of Germs: On average, American children have between six to ten colds per year. And the average adult has between two to three. That’s why it’s important to stop the spread of germs where they’re most likely to breed—at school and at work. So get immunized, wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer and talk with your child about covering coughs and sneezes (with the upper part of their arm, rather than their hand) to help stop the spread of germs.

Make a Sick-Day Game Plan: No matter how well you prepare for cold and flu season, chances are that your child will still need an occasional sick-day. So it’s best to have a plan in place for when the inevitable arises. Before the school year begins, organize for a family member or trusted babysitter to be on call for when your child gets sick. And make sure you’re up to date with the school’s policy. You may have to complete a form that allows someone other than mom or dad to pick up your child in the event that you’re not able to get there.

So enjoy these last few fleeting days of summer. And remember, with the right preparation and a solid game plan, you can make sure your family starts the school year off right.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.