Did we say, “back to school”?! Those lazy, hazy days of summer are about to turn into school days again now that the calendar has been turned to August, even though the temperatures will feel like summer for a while longer. Here’s our checklist of things to do to make sure your kids – from preschool to college – are at their best and ready to learn this year.
1. Get any necessary physicals out of the way BEFORE school starts.
It’s much easier to get the necessary physicals and/or immunizations before your child is back in the classroom to avoid taking them out of school and scheduling your time away from work. If your child will be involved with athletics, check with the school or sports team to see what sort of physical will be needed.
“As a parent, making sure your children are vaccinated on time is an important step toward ensuring their long-term health. Vaccination also helps protect the health of classmates, friends, relatives, and others in the community.” Most, if not all, colleges and universities, even community colleges where students do not live on campus, require several immunizations – both boosters of earlier ones and some specific to college students and young adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an easy-to-read and printable has a chart of recommended vaccinations and immunizations for infants and children through age 18.
2. Send your child to school every day ready to learn.
Good nutrition before, during, and after school provide the necessary energy to keep minds alert during the school day and bridge the time between after school with sports and other activities until dinner. Avoid empty calories from added sugars and fats. Be a good role model for a healthy diet. Always try to have plenty of healthy snacks and drinks available.
Make sleep a priority. Most school-age children need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Overuse of electronic devices can inhibit adequate sleep; put away electronics one hour before bedtime and read a book instead.
If your students are college age, offer gentle reminders about diet, sleep, and exercise, as well as making smart choices about drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity.
3. Be an active partner in your child’s education, health, and wellness.
Before the first day of school, have a “game plan” for expectations for your student as well as the “parent team.” Take time now to get familiar with the school’s website, check supply lists, and note any key dates like “meet the teacher” or back-to-school nights.
Have a conversation now about expectations for homework. Check your child’s backpack every day for notes and homework assignments. Be sure to provide the support needed – both time and help – for homework to be completed successfully.
Talk with your child about their school’s discipline and bullying policies. (This may also be called the student code of conduct and is usually on the school website or in a student handbook.) In addition to policies such as dress code and use of electronics, there are likely details about attendance, vandalism, cheating, fighting, and weapons, as well as specific policies about bullying.
It can be difficult to support your college student, especially if they’re living away from home, without turning into a “helicopter parent.” Be ready for those “emergency” phone calls but try not to overreact and jump into the car. “When a problem arises, ‘move like your feet are stuck in molasses.’
The temptation is to intervene when a child calls home with a problem. Remember that many resources exist at college to help students cope with various situations. Express support but give your children time to solve their own problems—it will ultimately benefit them. Colleges have many safety nets, including resident advisers who are trained to identify and handle just about any problem you can imagine.”
4. Have your medical support team in place before you need it.
Attendance at school is important and should be considered your child’s “job,” but sick children should stay home if they have a fever, are nauseated, vomiting, or have diarrhea. Kids who lose their appetite, are clingy or lethargic, complain of pain, or who just don't seem to be acting "themselves" should also be allowed take a sick day occasionally.
For your college students, know where the closest urgent care facilities are which accept your insurance plan – both on and off campus – and what their hours are. When you drop them off or go for orientation, make sure to locate the health clinic.
And, if your child does become sick and needs medical help, don’t forget to contact your closest Integrity Urgent Care clinic. We’re here 7 days a week, 8 am-8 pm – after work, after school, and on the weekends. An appointment is never needed! We can help check off those back-to-school physicals and immunizations too. We’re part of your back-to-school support team!
For more information, check out these other blog posts:
Does Your Child Need a School Physical?
Back to School Health Tips
Healthcare and College – What You Need to Know
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Does your back-to-school checklist include vaccination? National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. Updated 24 Jul 2018 [accessed 29 Jul 2019]. https://www.cdc.gov/features/catchupimmunizations/index.html
Joyce A. 9 tips on how to be a good college parent. The Washington Post [online]. 2 Sep 2014 [accessed 1 Aug 2019]. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/09/02/9-tips-on-how-to-be-a-good-college-parent/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7cf68cec75ff