As summer break draws to a close and the new school peeks over the horizon, many parents begin to ask themselves: how can I get my child ready to go back to school? While first day pictures and new notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes are fun to think about, back-to-school readiness goes much further. Here are five quick tips on how to get your kids ready for a happy, healthy school year:
- Schedule a back-to-school checkup. During a well child visit, your child’s pediatrician will track your child’s growth and development and provide an opportunity for you to ask questions. This is a great time to ask questions about vaccines, mental health, or raise any concerns you may have about your child’s health. This is also an opportunity to make sure your child’s immunizations are current and get a copy for school. Remember to bring any forms that you want your pediatrician to fill out (for example, medication forms for inhalers for asthma, or Tylenol or Advil for pain or headaches, and school entry/physical forms). For children who “paused” ADD/ADHD medication over the summer, talk to your pediatrician about when to restart so that your child is prepared on the first day of school.
- Set an appointment for your child’s sports physical. Many school districts require sports clearance before participation in intramural sports beginning in 7th grade. Although there are many features in common between a sports physical and well child exam, they are not interchangeable. The clearance is good for one year from the time of exam (unless there is a change in health status, like an injury or a new medical diagnosis).
- Talk with your child about how they’re feeling about going back to school. Many children are excited about a new school year, but they may also experience anxiety, so create a safe space for your child to talk openly and honestly about their feelings. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s mental health, talk to your pediatrician. They can screen your child for conditions like depression or anxiety and can advise you on the best way to help.
- Set expectations for the school year. Setting expectations and establishing a set school day routine can be a big help to parents once the school year begins. Consider talking through the first day with your child so they know what to expect. Going through these steps can give your child an idea of what the school day will be like and can help reduce anxiety.
One of the biggest challenges parents often tell me they face is the transition to a school year bedtime routine after a summer of later bedtimes and slumber parties. To help make bedtime a relaxing and battle-free experience, create a nightly wind-down procedure a few weeks ahead of the start of the school year. There’s no official “right” routine here; what’s more important is to be consistent each night, even on weekends, so that your child settles into a standard bedtime routine. For more tips on how to improve your child’s sleep, visit 360me: https://www.valleychildrens.org/360me/improve-sleep
- Make the most of the last days of summer. As the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short.” It may be easy to forget as we’re busy living our day-to-day lives, but every single one of these summer days with your child is precious. Plan end-of-summer activities to help your child wrap up summer and plan for the school year ahead. Enjoy every moment!
About the Author
Board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, Dr. Omobola Olaniyan joined Valley Children’s as a pediatric primary care physician at Magnolia Pediatrics in Clovis in March 2019. “My goal as a pediatrician,” says Dr. Olaniyan, “is to make sure my patients are cared for using the best tools available to ensure they are physically and mentally prepared for life’s challenges.”