While summer is still in full swing, your children’s return to the classroom will arrive before you know it. In preparation, parents can use these expert tips for ensuring the school year gets off to a healthy start.
Being planned in your approach is a good initial step. This includes at home and with your health care providers, noted Carman H. Whiting, MD, a family medicine physician with UT Physicians and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
“Getting their doctor and dental visits done before the start of the school year ensures no missed instructional time,” Whiting said. “And if the kids have had a lot of late summer nights, allow about two to four weeks before school starts to restore a routine schedule for getting them to bed.”
Physical and dental check-ups
The child wellness visit is a prime opportunity to assess progress in meeting appropriate milestones related to children’s physical health. Likewise, set up an appointment with their dentist for a regular cleaning and X-rays if needed. Also, use this time to consult their doctor or dentist regarding any concerns you have observed which may need additional care.
Addressing mental health
Being supportive and attentive to your child’s emotional wellness is more important than ever. Exposure to stressors as children develop can invoke feelings of anxiety or depression. Examples include a new school or new schedule, relationships with friends, interaction with news or social media, or other issues which cause unwanted tension.
“Make efforts to keep consistent, open lines of communication with your child. Take the time to inquire what’s on their minds, and ask about any fears or concerns,” Whiting stated. “Demonstrating the willingness to listen is productive toward getting children to open up. They often want to talk about their struggles and will be likely to share if within a caring environment.”
If you observe signs of withdrawal, lack of communication, or excessively disruptive behavior from your child, consider scheduling an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician. Standardized questions can be administered by the doctor along with follow-up, interactive dialogue about their answers. If further contact is determined necessary with a therapist or psychiatrist, your doctor can assist with an appropriate referral.
These proactive measures can ensure your children are set up for success at the beginning of the school year, healthy and ready to learn.