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UPMC Pediatrician: Back-to-School Advice

Getting your kids ready to go back to school means more than getting new school supplies and clothes. Recommitting to your children’s health care is another major way to prepare. Over the summer it might have been a bit easier to slack on bedtimes and meals, but now is the chance to establish and meet

Getting your kids ready to go back to school means more than getting new school supplies and clothes. Recommitting to your children’s health care is another major way to prepare. Over the summer it might have been a bit easier to slack on bedtimes and meals, but now is the chance to establish and meet your family’s health goals again.
Physical Health

Back-to-school physicals are a great way to ensure that your child’s development and growth are on track. These appointments also provide you with the opportunity to have an open dialogue with your doctor to go over any physical or eating habits, family history, concerns, or to check if any immunizations are needed.

Routine dental and eye exams are also essential to your child’s overall wellbeing. Oral health and vision can affect your child in school more than you might think. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children that have poor oral health receive lower grades and miss school more often. Poor vision can lead children to have eye strain, headaches, and double vision just by reading the whiteboard or doing homework. Making time for dental and eye exams can put a stop to these problems early on.

While there may be less free time in your child’s day, it’s still important that they get plenty of physical activity and time to play. Being active will not only help them burn off their pent-up energy from the day, but it also helps keep them in good physical condition. Time for play is important because it helps your child’s brain develop and sparks creativity, relationship skills, and many other social and emotional habits. You are the best role model when it comes to your child’s health. If you are getting physically active and eating a nutrient-rich diet, you are contributing to your children’s foundation of knowledge and development to a healthy lifestyle.
Mental Health

Going back to school can take a toll on your child’s mental health. Anxiety is common and can be induced by new social situations and being separated from what they are comfortable with. Kids can also face the pressure of getting good grades and performing well with their extra-curricular activities.

Starting a routine before classes begin can help ease your kids back into the school year. One hour before bedtime, put away electronics and encourage reading as an alternative. Then, ensure that your children are getting at least eight hours of sleep. The less time your child sleeps, the more likely it is they 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 life at school in the future. Concerns are expected to occur during these trials, but should be seen as opportunities to go over problem-solving skills that can help ease their anxiety.

Always check in with your children and seek extra help if necessary. If your child is facing academic difficulties, talk with your doctor in addition to his or her teacher as learning disabilities are possible. Early diagnosis and intervention will be vital to helping your child achieve academic success and reduce school related anxieties.
COVID-19

This fall, in-person classes are scheduled and might be a concern for you and your family. The best way to keep your children safe is to have all of the 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 mask up and social distance when possible, and children of any age should be encouraged to wear a mask, even if they’re vaccinated, if it helps them feel more comfortable.

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

Olufunke Oladejo, MD
Pediatrics, UPMC

Dr. Oladejo is a pediatrician with UPMC Pediatrics and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport, 700 High St., Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with, call 570-321-2810. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PediatricsNCPA.

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