The back-to-school countdown begins. In the next week or so, the kids will be heading back to their classrooms. Are they ready? Are you ready?
Follow Akron Children’s checklist and prevent lots of that last-minute stress.
Vaccinations – You know your school will ask you for an updated list of your child’s vaccinations. Call your pediatrician now and request a copy. Many offices, such as Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, offer online access to these records but you must come to the office in person to get an access code and begin the process.
Sports Physical – Your team will require a copy of a physical signed by a physician before your child can play. Some schools and sports leagues offer convenient, group physicals but nothing compares with a thorough, one-on-one exam by your child’s primary care physician or sports medicine specialist. Call today to make your appointment.
Refill Medications – Does your child take a daily medication? Now is the time to call your pharmacist for a refill. Make sure your school is aware of the prescription’s name and dosage, as well as all other health concerns.
Sleep – Ideally, you should begin getting your child back to an early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep schedule several weeks before the first day of school. Elementary and middle school children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night, while adolescents typically require 8 to 10 hours. Consistent bedtime routines, such as bathing, teeth brushing and story time, are strongly recommended by pediatricians.
Transportation – If your child walks to school, don’t wait until the first day to check out the route. Walk with your child and point out potential hazards, such as a stop sign hidden behind a bush. Kids younger than 10 should always walk with an adult, says Heather Trnka, Akron Children’s injury prevention coordinator.
“With older kids, discuss hypothetical situations that should prompt them to seek help,” she said. “And model safety by only crossing streets at corners, cross walks, and light signals.”
Back-Up Care – If both parents work, plan ahead for days when your child is sick or the school is closed due to weather or in-service days. Look ahead at the school district calendar and always have a few reliable babysitters on speed dial.
Don’t have much flexibility with your job when your child is sick? Akron Children’s Estelle Kaufmann Sick Child Care Center is available Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm for $60 per day. Some local employers may underwrite all or part of the cost. For details, see our Sick Child Care Center page.
Backpacks – High on the list of back-to-school supplies is a sturdy backpack. Choose a backpack with two wide, padded straps and a padded back for comfort. Use a bathroom scale to weigh the loaded backpack. It should never be more than 15 percent of your child’s body weight. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Todd Ritzman offers more tips on safe backpack use.
Brown Bag Ready – If your child packs a lunch, think ahead about ideas that are both healthy and appetizing. Veggie sticks may be more likely to get eaten with small cup of dip, and a whole wheat sandwich may be more appealing if cut with a cute cookie cutter. Give kids a say in what they pack. Ideas abound on the Internet. And don’t forget to include an ice pack to keep meats and dairy products cold.
Quick & Tasty Dinners – The lazy days of summer will soon give way to early wake-ups, the rush to extra-curricular activities and homework. Planning, again, is the key.
Plot dinners a week out and make sure you get everything you need on your shopping trips. Pull out the crock pot and use the weekend to make and freeze main dishes for the weekdays ahead. Think about double-duty foods, such as the brisket that can be used in sandwiches one night and tacos the next.
“There’s likely to be some fears about new situations and the unknown mixed with the excitement of seeing friends and teachers again,” he said.
The best way to overcome fear is to give kids as much information as possible. So be sure to carefully read all correspondence from the school and take opportunities to visit the school and attend open house.
“A new school year is a brand new beginning,” Dr. Putt said. “If grades began to slip last year or there were struggles, conflicts with friends or other difficulties, it is important to reassure them that this is a fresh start and that it’s going to be a great year.”