Family Health Checklist

Give Your Child a Healthy School Start

With the back-to-school season in full swing, now is a good time for families to make sure children are in good physical health and ready to learn. Use the following family health checklist as a guide to give your child a healthy start this year:

Complete Eye Exams
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an eye evaluation once before the age of 3 and every one to two years after that until age 19. During adolescence, a child’s eyesight can change very quickly.

Biannual Dental Visit
Children should see a dentist by age 1. Even preschool-age kids can learn oral health habits, including the proper way to brush using training toothpaste and visits to a dentist twice a year. Tooth decay can be a chronic childhood disease. If untreated, it can affect a child’s ability to eat, speak, sleep and learn.

Eating breakfast is the best way to get the brain ready to learn. Consider healthy breakfast and lunch options, such as whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat toast and fresh fruits. If your child packs a lunch, be sure to include foods that are both tasty and healthy.

Bedtime Routines
Children between 5 and 12 years old need approximately 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night. Children older than 12 years of age should get at least eight hours of sleep. Start the school year with a bedtime routine that includes preparing for the morning; for example, setting out clothes and packing lunch. Also, encourage children to wake up early enough to have time for breakfast.

Make Sure Backpacks Aren’t Too Heavy
Parents need to keep an eye out for back pain that can result from carrying a backpack to school. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack weigh no more than 15 to 20 percent of the child’s body weight. This figure may vary, however, depending on the child’s body strength and fitness.

Warning signs that a backpack is too heavy:

  • Change in posture when wearing the backpack
  • Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack
  • Pain when wearing the backpack
  • Red marks on skin

Well-Child Visits and Vaccinations
Get a yearly school physical and confirm with the doctor that your child has received the recommended vaccinations. Lean more.