Summer is flying by and back to school time is quickly approaching. For parents and children alike, this time of year engenders both excitement and anxiety. However, a little preparation can go a long way! Below is a list of ways you can help prepare your child for a confident, happy, and successful first day.
1 month out:
- Schedule your child’s annual well child check, if not already up to date. This is an important opportunity to ensure immunizations are up to date, medications are refilled, and preventative health has been addressed.
- Schedule your child’s twice-a-year dental cleaning.
- Get refills on any medications that need to be administered or housed in the school nurse’s office as emergency medications (e.g., Albuterol, Epi-pen). Many school districts require a prescription even for over the counter medications (e.g., Benadryl).
- Consider scheduling a phone call or meeting with the school nurse regarding your child’s medical needs.
- Have your pediatrician complete all medical forms required by your school (e.g., updated vaccination records, medication administration forms, Asthma action plan, Food allergy action plan)
- Call your school principal to discuss any special needs your child has, including an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or school based therapy. You do not need to wait until the first day of school to start this process.
These visits are important to complete before the school year begins, to avoid pulling your child out of school. I believe every second counts in the classroom. Also, during the first few weeks of school, any schedule changes can be difficult on the child.
2 weeks out:
- Purchase school supplies, lunch box, and a back pack. Look into community resources for these items: https://www.houstontx.gov/btsf/
- The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that a backpack never weigh more than 10-20% of your child’s body weight. Practice filling the backpack with books from home to help your middle or high school age child understand the appropriate weight they should be carrying. Always use both straps!
- For elementary age children, practice fine motor skills, including: opening lunch boxes, opening plastic bags and food containers, zipping and buttoning pants and jackets, and bathroom hygiene.
- Start adjusting your and your child’s morning wake-up time and bedtime to match school day routines.
1 week out:
- Schedule a back-to-school haircut.
- Due to COVID, many school may not allow tours of the school or classrooms. You can still find ways to rehearse and familiarize your child with their new school. Walk or drive the route you will take to school. Go all the way to the front door or drop off point and practice drop off with a kiss and hug. You child will remember this playful experience.
The night before:
- Make lunches, pick out clothes, and pack backpacks for a smooth morning!
- Eat a healthy dinner, spend some quality family time, and get to bed on time.
As I advocate with all aspects of my patients’ medical and mental health needs, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Take a little time over the next month to prepare your child for great start to their school year. For more tips, please visit this page from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
About the Author:
Dr. Sarah Miller is double board-certified in Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, so she can care for you or your little one through all stages of life. She is empathetic, patient, safe, thorough, ethical, and kind. Through her practice, Simply Medicine, she provides personalized, accessible, value-based care and welcomes you to learn more by visiting her website.