As families begin preparations to get their kids ready for the new school year, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) reminds Harlemite’s to follow these ten health tips to help kids get ready for school.
“Each new school year is a reminder for parents to make sure their kids are up to date with immunizations and yearly health exams,” Warren Seigel, MD, Chair of Pediatrics, HHC. “It’s also a good time to practice good habits with children such as earlier bed times, eating healthy, and limiting screen time.”
Here are the top 10 health tips for parents to help kids get ready for a new school year:
1. Annual Physicals: Yearly physicals are important to ensure children are growing and developing properly. Physicals should start at birth and continue into early adulthood.
2. Vision and Hearing Tests: Children should have their hearing tested before starting school, and vision exams starting at 6 months of age. Parents should watch for signs of hearing or vision loss and consult their child’s pediatrician right away for testing.
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3. Flu Shots: Flu vaccination is recommended every year for everyone over 6 months of age. The flu is dangerous to children and sometimes results in death.
4. Childhood Vaccinations: Vaccines are necessary to help protect children and others against disease, and often required for children to attend school. Common immunizations for school-aged children could include meningitis, DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and HPV. Talk to your pediatrician to determine which immunizations your child needs and how often. Visit the NYC Department of Education for a full list of immunization requirements.
5. Nutrition: It’s important to help kids make healthy food choices that include five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and limit added sugars found in candy and juices. Starting the day with a good breakfast may help kids focus better in school and be more productive.
6. Sleep: Adequate sleep helps keep kids focused each day at school. Preschoolers typically require 11-13 hours each night and children aged 5 to 12 need about 10-11 hours of sleep. To keep a consistent sleep schedule kids should sleep in the same room each night and TV should stay out of the bedroom.
7. Routines: Consistent routines help keep children alert and productive during the school year. Afterschool routines should consist of a healthy snack before homework, at least an hour of physical activity, no more than two hours of TV or video games, and at least eight hours of sleep each night.
8. Physical Activity: Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities each day to keep them active. It’s recommended that kids get 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to maintain a healthy weight.
9. Street Smarts: Kids need to be reminded about pedestrian safety. Review the importance of stop, look and listen when crossing the street, being alert and not distracted while walking, and always make sure children are accompanied by an adult walking to and from school.
10. Limited Screen Time: It’s easy for kids to go overboard with the amount of time spent in front of TV, computers, and video games. Parents should set “screen free zones” such as in a child’s bedroom or during mealtimes, so children are not consumed with televisions, computers/tablets or video games. Screen time should be monitored and limited to no more than one – two hours each day.
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about your child’s health or immunization status.
HHC primary care centers and child health clinics are available to provide children with needed physicals, immunizations and other wellness support. To locate health services near you visit www.nyc.gov/hhc or find us on facebook.com/nycHHC or twitter.com/HHCnyc.