VALHALLA, N.Y. -- As summer slowly winds down and children begin their return to the classroom, the adolescent health experts at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, remind parents that pens, pencils and notebooks aren't the only things to consider when prepping for the upcoming year.
According to Dr. Rebekka Levis, a pediatrician, and Dr. Abraham Bartell, chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, promoting children's physical and emotional preparedness for the year ahead should be as much a part of back-to-school process as summer reading and supply shopping.
To help ease the transition from beach to books, Levis and Bartell offered their tips and recommendations on how to start the school year off right.
Children should visit their pediatrician for an annual physical and ensure their immunizations are up to date. In New York, this means children entering kindergarten should have two measles, mumps and rubella vaccines, two chicken pox vaccines and should be up to date with their polio and DTaP vaccines. Children entering 7th grade should have one meningitis vaccine and children entering 12th grade should have two meningitis vaccines, unless the first was received after their 16th birthday.
Head to bed:
Children ages 6-18 should get approximately 10-12 hours of sleep per night. To avoid having to change sleep habits overnight, move bedtimes up by 15-30 minutes each night over the final weeks before school starts. Eliminating screen time one hour before bed and avoiding meals that are too large or small can also make falling asleep easier.
Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch helps children fuel their day and leads to better focus and academic performance. Pack a healthy lunch that includes fruit, protein and simple carbohydrates. If lunch is provided at school, check to make sure healthy options are offered.
Choosing the right backpack is also incredibly important. Backpacks should weigh no more than 10-20 percent of a child's body weight, and have wide padded straps and a padded back that rests at the waist. Disperse items evenly throughout the different compartments and encourage children to use both straps.
Establishing a routine and preparing for the school transition helps address most general anxieties, but it's also important for parents to address any lingering concerns from the previous school year.
For more back to school health and safety tips courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics, click here.