By: Dr. Lou Romig
Preparing for your children to go to school in the fall means more than buying new clothes and school supplies. Here’s a checklist of a few things that will help your child stay healthy and happy during the school year.
Obtain school and sports physicals and update vaccinations as needed.
If your child takes medication every day, make sure you have an adequate supply. If your child takes prescription medications only when necessary (such as allergy medications), make sure you have it at home, so your child doesn’t need to wait for a doctor’s appointment to get the medication when it’s needed.
Start moving your child’s sleep and wake times to their school year hours 1-2 weeks ahead of time. Cutting off all screen time at least one hour before bed will help your child fall asleep faster. Cell phones should be turned off at night.
Emphasize to your child the importance of hand washing/sanitizing as a way to help keep from getting sick, and to let you or a teacher know if they’re not feeling well.
Try to ensure that your child gets a healthy breakfast on school days.
If your child has food or other allergies and is old enough to understand their allergy, make sure they know what to avoid. If your child has had or may have anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) and has been prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector, make sure they have it with them or that it’s kept in the school office or clinic. Make appropriate arrangements with the school to have medications like epinephrine (“Epi-Pen”) and albuterol inhalers available for your child and/or staff to use. Ask if there’s always someone at school who knows how to use an Epi-Pen.
Make sure your child’s school has all appropriate emergency contact information as well as your child’s medical information. Let them know which hospital you prefer your child to go to in an emergency.
Remind your children about the dangers of heat and dehydration. Athletes should not be compelled to overexert themselves in the late summer and fall heat. Talk to your school’s coaches and/or athletic trainers about their policies about exertion in the heat and access to adequate hydration during activities. Make sure middle and high school Athletic/PE Departments have an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Speak with your child about their knowledge about bullying and ask if they’ve ever been bullied. Know your school’s policies on bullying.
Ask your child if they have any concerns or fears about starting school. Let them know you hear them and are always willing to listen and help when you can.
Dr. Lou Romig is the Tampa Bay medical director of After Hours Pediatrics Urgent Care. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in the specialty of pediatric emergency medicine and is one of the first group of physicians in the U.S. to earn that certification 30 years ago.