Back-to-school advice from a UPMC pediatrician | Life

Getting your kids ready to go back to school means more than buying new school supplies and clothes. Recommitting to your children’s health care is another important way to prepare. In the summer it may have been a little easier to slack off with bedtimes and meals, but now’s the chance to set and reach your family’s health goals again.

Physical health

Back-to-school physics are a great way to ensure your child’s development and growth are on track. These appointments also give you the opportunity to have an open dialogue with your doctor to discuss physical or eating habits, family history, concerns, or to check if vaccinations are needed.

Routine dental and eye exams are also essential for your child’s overall well-being. Oral health and eyesight can affect your child at school more than you may think.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with poor oral health have lower grades and are more likely to miss school. Poor vision can cause children to get eyestrain, headaches and double vision just from reading the whiteboard or doing homework. Making time for dental and eye exams can stop these problems early.

While there may be less free time in your child’s day, it is still important that they get plenty of exercise and time to play. Being active will not only help them burn off their pent-up energy from the day, but it also helps them stay in good physical shape. Time to play is important as it helps your child’s brain develop and fuels creativity, relationship skills and many other social and emotional habits.

You are the best role model when it comes to your child’s health. By becoming physically active and following a nutrient-rich diet, you will contribute to your children’s knowledge base and development towards a healthy lifestyle.

Mental health

Going back to school can have a negative impact on your child’s mental health. Anxiety is common and can be triggered by new social situations and being separated from what they feel comfortable with. Children may also face the pressure to get good grades and perform well with their extracurricular activities.

Starting a routine before classes start will make it easier for your kids to start the school year. Put away electronics an hour before bedtime and encourage reading as an alternative. Next, make sure your kids get at least eight hours of sleep. The less time your child sleeps, the more likely it is to show signs of depression, anxiety, or impulsive behavior.

Schedule a tour of your child’s school or a meet-and-greet with his or her new teacher. This can help your child navigate school life in the future. Concerns are expected to arise during these studies, but they should be seen as opportunities to discuss problem-solving skills that can alleviate their anxiety.

Always check in with your children and seek extra help if necessary. If your child has academic difficulties, talk to your doctor in addition to his or her teacher, as learning difficulties are possible. Early diagnosis and intervention are vital to help your child achieve academic success and reduce school-related anxiety.

COVID-19

Personal classes are scheduled for this fall and this may be a concern for you and your family. The best way to protect your children is to have all eligible members of your household receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines are approved for anyone over the age of 12.

Remind your children under 12 to wear masks and keep their distance whenever possible, and children of any age should be encouraged to wear a mask, even if they have been vaccinated, if it makes them feel more comfortable.

Develop good hand-washing habits early to prevent your child from getting sick and to stop the spread of germs. Not only can this help stop the spread of COVID-19, but also the flu and the common cold.

dr. Oladejo is a pediatrician at UPMC Pediatrics and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport, 700 High St., Williamsport. Call (570) 321-2810 to make an appointment. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PediatricsNCPA.

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