Back to School Tips
By Stephanie Marsau
Some children have already gone back to school and others are still gearing up, but regardless of when they’re going back, one fact remains. After a long hiatus from school, kids and parents alike get out of their routine and may have questions now that the school year is starting up again.
We took some of those questions to McFarland Clinic Pediatrician, Dr. Jill Alexander. Check out what she had to say below.
- My kids have stayed up late all summer. How do I get back to a bedtime routine now that school is starting?
It is important to get kids back on a good sleeping schedule. Ideally, you should start gradually putting your children to bed a little earlier each night over the last three weeks of summer and they should be back to the fall bedtime about one week before school starts. If you don’t have three weeks before school starts, just try to move them back halfway to their school year bedtime tonight, and then all the way back tomorrow night. Try to keep them at a consistent bed time on school nights, but know that it’s okay to let them stay up later on weekends.
- Should I bring my child in for a routine physical prior to school starting?
We strongly recommend annual physicals, or a well child exam, for all children. This is an opportunity to have a full review of your child’s health, a full physical exam, monitor growth and development, ensure your child is up to date on vaccines and discuss any concerns you have. We can also talk about preventive medicine and safety. These exams are more than just a simple “sports exam.” We are able to full out the sport form and any other forms your child needs for up to a year after a well child exam. When you wish to schedule your child’s physical is entirely up to you. Most insurance companies will cover one exam a year. Some parents like to schedule exams close to their child’s birthday, while others prefer to do it in the summer prior to school starting. Either way is fine, but it is important to have an annual checkup.
- What steps can I take as a parent to ensure my child stays healthy during the school year?
The best things you can do to keep your child healthy is offer a healthy diet (lots of fresh fruits and veggies), make sure they get enough sleep, remind them to wash their hands frequently (especially before eating and after using the bathroom) and make sure they have had all their vaccinations, including an annual flu vaccine. When they are sick, make sure to keep them home to decrease the spread of germs. It is also important to get plenty of physical activity to stay healthy.
- Is there a general rule of thumb regarding backpacks and the amount of weight my child should be carrying? It seems like my child always has a full backpack and walks slightly stooped over – this can’t be good for their back, can it?
In general, kids should not carry more than 10-15% of their body weight in their backpacks. Backpacks should also be worn correctly, with the straps on both shoulders. This helps distribute the weight across the body. If the backpack is not worn correctly, or is too heavy, it will pull them backwards. To compensate, kids will then bend forward which puts them in an unnatural position and can cause strain on their muscles and their spine.
Make sure to follow up with your child’s primary care provider if you have any additional questions that may affect your child throughout the school year. Otherwise, here’s to a happy, healthy and safe school year!