With a new school year fast approaching, NYC Health + Hospitals, the nation’s largest public health care system, is encouraging parents to ensure their children’s readiness for classroom success by following ten back-to-school health tips. Parents are encouraged not to delay scheduling appointments for a physical and/or immunization at your local NYC Health + Hospitals health center.
“The new school year is an important time for parents to make sure their children are up to date with immunizations, which most schools require, and to have children get an annual exam to track their development and overall health,” said Warren Seigel, MD, Chairman of Pediatrics, NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island. “Healthy students are more likely to have the stamina and self-esteem that is crucial to performing well in school.”
NYC Health + Hospitals offers parents 10 health tips to help children get ready for the school year:
- Childhood Vaccinations: Vaccines are necessary to help protect children and others against disease, and many schools require them for attendance. Common immunizations for school-aged children include meningitis, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, and HPV. Talk to your pediatrician to determine which immunizations your child needs and whether they need periodic boosters. Visit the NYC Department of Education for a full list of immunization requirements.
- 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. Parents should remember that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to fully develop in the body, which protect against infections. So, it is wisest to have children vaccinated early, especially before the flu starts spreading through schools and the community.
- Annual Physicals: Yearly physicals are important to ensure children are growing and developing properly. Physicals should start at birth and continue into early adulthood. In addition, schools typically require physical evaluation before participation in sports is permitted.
- Vision and Hearing Tests: Children should undergo vision exams starting at 6 months of age and hearing tests before starting school. Parents should always watch for signs of hearing or vision loss and, if they have concerns, should consult their child’s pediatrician right away for testing.
- Nutrition: It’s important to help children make healthy food choices. Their daily diet should include five servings of fruits and vegetables and should limit added sugars (found in candy and some juices). Starting the day with a good breakfast may help children focus better in school and be more productive. Remember that children who have healthy eating habits often grow into healthy adults with a lifelong of good eating habits.
- Sleep: Adequate sleep helps keep children 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. Older children and teens need at least eight hours of sleep each night. To keep a consistent sleep schedule, children should sleep in the same room each night, and TV should stay out of the bedroom.
- Physical Activity: Parents should encourage their children to do a variety of activities each day to keep them active. It’s recommended that children get 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to help maintain general health and a healthy weight.
- Limit Screen Time: It’s easy for children to go overboard with the amount of time spent in front of TV, computers, and video games. Parents should monitor the amount of time children spend in front of the screen and limit it to no more than two hours each day.
- Routines: Consistent routines help keep children alert and productive during the school year. In addition to regularity in nutrition, physical activity, limited video game and TV time, and bedtime, parents are encouraged to establish after-school routines as well, such as a healthy snack before homework. Children tend to thrive in structured routines.
- Street Smarts: Children need to be reminded about pedestrian safety. Review the importance of “stop, look, and listen” when crossing the street, being alert, and not being distracted while walking, especially if they are old enough to have a smartphone. Always make sure younger children are accompanied by an adult to and from school.
If you have questions about your child’s health or immunization status, talk to your child’s pediatrician. To locate nearby health services, visit NYCHealthandHospitals.org.
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