With the weeks of summer winding down, parents begin to rejoice and children begin to lament about going clothes shopping for school.

The days leading up to the start of a new school year can be very hectic.  Here are some tips to make the return to the classroom easy as well as tips to keep your children healthy and out of the doctor’s office.

Hygiene

On average, children contract between 6 and 12 common cold infections per year.  All parents would rather have their child on the lower end of the common cold infection spectrum, meaning fewer days missed from school and fewer days missed at work for parents.

Hand washing!

  • Use soap and water often – the majority of common cold infections are spread via direct contact or contact with a surface which has been contaminated by someone with a cold.
  • Tip: teach your child to first dampen their hands, apply soap, scrub vigorously for 15 seconds, rinse, and dry off hands – use the towel that you dried off with to help you open the door so you don’t pick up new germs on your way out.
  • How long is 15 seconds? Tell them to sing the “Happy Birthday” song in their head once.
  • Pack hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack each day
  • Ask their teacher to include hand sanitizer on every student’s school supply list.
  • Teachers should make it a habit to have all children wash or sanitize their hands before snacks, lunch, or after recess.

Breakfast

An extremely important meal for everyone… Research studies in children have shown that optimal nutrition at breakfast is important for brain maturation throughout childhood and adolescence.

  • Just like recommendations for lunch and dinner – try to include something from each food group if possible.
  • Children who ate breakfast each morning also have been shown to have higher test scores and cognitive functioning than children who did not eat breakfast.

Backpacks

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children carry no more than 10-20% of their body weight in their backpack (i.e. – a 60lb child’s backpack should not weigh more than 12lbs with books and supplies.

  • Use backpacks with have 2 shoulder straps – single strap backpacks do not distribute weight evenly
  • Straps should be padded and be comfortable on the shoulders
  • What if my child’s books weigh too much?
    • Ask the school to provide a 2nd set of textbooks which can be kept at home to eliminate the need to carry books home each day.

For specific questions or more information about Back-to-School tips mentioned in this article, please consult with your pediatrician.