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Back to School Basics for Healthy Kids

School can put pressure on children and parents. As a parent, you may worry about things like your child’s academic performance, health and relationships with other students and teachers. And while you can’t keep an eye on your child at school, you can encourage healthy habits starting at a young age. Here are some tips to help your kids make a healthy transition back to school.

1. Catch those zzzz’s- Pediatricians recommend that children aged 6 – 12 get 9 – 12 hours of sleep per night, and that teens get 8 – 10 hours per night. Make sure your child is receiving the rest they need by promoting good sleep strategies such as; powering off electronics at least one hour before bedtime, utilizing darkening shades or other light-blocking devices in their sleep area, avoiding caffeine after noon.

2. Don’t skip the sport’s exam- Sports checkups are a great time for doctors to review your child’s heart and lung health and diagnose breathing or exertion issues before they become critical.

3. Check their eyes- Good vision is critical to a student’s success in the classroom. Be aware of these signs that your child may not be able to see clearly; recurring headaches while reading or using digital devices, sitting too close to a TV screen, squinting when viewing things in the distance (such as a white board), losing place while reading, or slipping behind in reading ability, and poor concentration.

4. Lighten the load- As schoolkids get older, they tend to carry heavier books. A load of books with a laptop can weigh as much as 30 pounds. That can spell shoulder, neck, and back strain for young people, and affect their posture. Make sure your child’s backpack fits well, with padding on the shoulder straps that can be loosened and tightened to ensure a snug fit depending on the contents. Make sure the backpack is always worn with both straps over both shoulders, not one slung over one arm, which adds to the pressure on that arm.

*Information from Kaiser Permanente, “Back-to-School Checklist”

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