9 Things Parents Can Do for a Healthy School Year

Aug. 11, 2022

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The schools are ready and teachers prepared to welcome kids back to classrooms across the state. But before the first day, learn how BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s Dr. Derick Wenning, an associate medical director, says parents can set their kids up for a healthy school year. 

1. Maintain a routine and sleep schedule 

It is a good idea to get children back on routine schedules before school starts. This is especially true for elementary and middle school-age children, Wenning says. Most school-age children need nine to 12 hours of sleep a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“Making sure your children are getting adequate sleep at night is incredibly important. Maintaining a good schedule during the school year will set them up for success,” he says.

2. Get their childhood immunizations 

Parents should check to make sure kids are up to date on routine immunizations before the new school year. These vaccines protect kids and others from dangerous diseases, such as measles, mumps, chickenpox and whooping cough. Find vaccination requirements and locations through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) website

3. Talk to the school nurse 

If your child needs to take medicine while at school, make sure you file all the correct forms and communicate with your school nurse about your needs, Wenning says. 

4.Get their physicals — early     

Before school sports seasons start, a checkup with your family doctor is important. “Sports physicals are meant to catch things that place a child at risk for either being injured or having health emergencies while participating in sports,” he says. 

One tip is to get your child’s physical weeks before it is due. This helps with scheduling at your family doctor’s office but also ensures your children have time for further testing if necessary. Wenning suggests scheduling the physical six to eight weeks before the season starts. 

5. Prepare for COVID-19 

The CDC and DHEC recommend children over 6 months receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You should talk with your child’s doctor about getting children vaccinated for COVID-19. 

6. Get flu shots 

Flu season typically starts in September. The flu shot is safe and recommended for everyone over 6 months old. The flu can be more severe in children, which is why getting an annual vaccine is important. The flu shot provides protection for six months. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot before the end of October.

7. Teach them to practice good hygiene and etiquette 

Get children ready for cold and flu season by teaching them appropriate cough or sneeze etiquette and how to properly wash hands to prevent spreading germs.

8. Stay safe 

The most common cause of death in children is unintentional injury, and the most common causes of unintentional injury in children are car crashes, drownings and guns. Make sure your child is in an age-appropriate child restraint while in a car. Practice pool and water safety. And keep all firearms stored and locked properly in your home so children do not have access. 

9. Monitor social media

If your children are on social media, consider supervising social media use. “Communicate with your children when they're reaching early adulthood because there are several risks present including inappropriate content and cyberbullying on social media platforms,” Wenning says. 

The CDC and DHEC are independent organizations that provide health information you may find helpful.

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