Tips for a Healthy Back-to-School Season

Preparing for school can be overwhelming after a busy summer, so use this checklist to help your family start the school year happy and healthy.

Know your school’s requirements

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Whether your child is starting a new school or the old one has new requirements, the best place to begin is by learning what’s needed for their files. Eboni Hollier, MD, a Houston-based physician and specialist in developmental, behavioral, and general pediatrics, says this is a good place to start to avoid any confusion or delays. “Parents should be sure that children have received all required immunizations,” she says. “If your child requires a physical, be sure to schedule this appointment prior to school beginning. Many student-athletes will need this.” These are the things your child’s pediatrician won’t tell you.

Put necessary medications on file at school

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Dr. Hollier also stresses communicating with teachers and administrators about any prescriptions your child takes—especially if the meds need to be administered at school. “Be sure the proper forms are signed by you and your child’s physician,” she suggests. “Additionally, inform your child’s school of any chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, and have a specific written plan of action on file in the event that your child becomes ill while at school. Let the school know of any food, environmental, or medication allergies. This is especially important if your child is required to have an EpiPen at school for allergic emergencies.”

Take time for an emotional wellness check-in

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“Rather than waiting until a stressful situation hits, parents should continually check in with their kids and maintain awareness of their moods and state of mind. That way they can get a sense of how their kids are doing and whether there have been changes in their behavior or mental state that warrant further investigation,” says Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LADC, the Chief Clinical Officer at Newport Academy. “Every child is different, especially as they mature into adolescence, so parents need to judge behavior and happiness levels based on their intimate knowledge of their unique child, rather than on any checklist that describes the ‘average’ child.” Check out our 11 teacher-approved tricks to get your kids ready for the first day of school.

Start with these mental health questions

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If you’re not sure where to begin in terms of a mental and emotional health check, Dr. Nosal suggests a few pertinent questions like the following: Is your child/teen sleeping well? Do they have a healthy appetite? Do they have meaningful relationships with others, including peers and family members? Are they able to bounce back from failures and mistakes? Are they able to express their emotions?

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