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Back-to-school health checklist for parents

Written By: Simone Sonnier, UT Physicians | Updated: July 7, 2022
Young student smiling

Ensure your little one starts the new school year off on the right foot by sticking to our must-do list outlined by a pediatrician.

Kenya M. Parks, MD
Kenya M. Parks, MD

With summer just kicking off, preparing for the next school year may be the last thing on many parents’ minds. However, now is actually the perfect time according to Kenya M. Parks, MD, pediatrician with UT Physicians.

“It’s best to not wait until the last minute to start preparing your child for a successful school year,” she shared. “To do this, we encourage parents to reach out to their child’s pediatrician and care team to set up a plan on how to start the year off right.”

To help make your summer prep easier, Parks outlined a few tasks that should be on your must-do list.

Physical health

Ensuring your child is entering the school year at their peak physical health can help reduce or eliminate potential illnesses. To achieve this, follow these steps:

  • Health supervision
    • This could include sports physicals (available at multiple UT Physicians locations) that need to be booked, vision or hearing screenings, and annual pediatrician appointments.
  • Standard immunizations are up to date, including the COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
  • Dental check-ups
  • Proper sleep, diet, and activity routines are in place.

Mental health

Your child’s mental health needs play a huge role in their overall well-being and happiness. A new school year, a major transition (like a transition from middle to high school), or the recent tragedies that we’re still dealing with as a nation can cause a lot of stress or anxiety.

Talking openly with your children about their issues or current struggles, and seeking out help when it’s needed is recommended.

“If your child or teen is dealing with feelings of depression, anxiety, or grief, it may be good to consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist,” said Parks, associate professor of pediatrics with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. “Additionally, many schools have counselors that can be a great resource for parents.”

The pediatrician also stresses the importance of discussing firearm safety with your children, as gun injuries are the leading cause of death among kids. Read more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics on this topic.

Tackling these tasks over the remaining weeks of summer will allow your little one to enter the new school year at their best, both mentally and physically. To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians, call 888-488-3627 or visit this page.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.