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Back to School

With summer drawing to a close and back-to-school fever sweeping North Texas, it’s time for parents to prepare their children for a return to the classroom. That means earlier bedtimes, healthier diets, regular routines and, most importantly, a trip to the doctor. Family practice physicians and pediatricians at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving are ready to assist parents in making sure their children are in top physical and mental health – which means getting those immunizations up-to-date – so that they start the school year on the right foot!

Making sure a child is healthy and well prepared for the new school year ultimately ensures improved concentration in the classroom and paves the way for a highly successful start. Getting kids excited about going back to school can help ease any pre-semester jitters. While shopping for new clothes and supplies can certainly be a part of the fun, the doctors at the Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving also suggest parents also prepare their kids by:

  • Establishing a consistent sleep pattern before the first day of class. A few weeks out, parents should start waking up their kids at the same time seven days a week. Enforcing earlier bedtimes will go hand in hand with this. As each step of a bedtime routine progresses – including baths, story time, brushing teeth and putting on pajamas – it should move a child one step closer to the actual bed.
  • Curbing the amounts of sugar, chocolate and sodas. With schools focused on healthy eating and a lot of schools removing soda and other snack machines, kids might find it as a shock when they can’t get their daily dose of soda that they have become accustomed to during the summer months. Breaking children of unhealthy eating before they return to school can help them concentrate more and remain better focused in the classroom.
  • Limiting the use of electronics and cutting back on TV/movie watching. During summer break, for better or worse electronic devices sometimes serve as pseudo babysitters, keeping kids busy while providing parents with some temporary much-needed quiet. Most schools will not allow students to bring these devices into classrooms because they are disruptive. By weaning kids off of the electronics before school starts, the potential withdrawal behavior won’t take away from learning.
  • Talking about any worries or concerns. Kindergarteners and those students who are entering middle and high school for the first time may have some added anxiety about their new environments and academic responsibilities. Parents can help calm those worries by simply listening and letting their kids talk through them. Topics of interest might include bullying, drinking, smoking, obesity, body issues and sex. If a particular issue cannot be resolved at home, parents can always call a school administer or counselor for additional outside support.
  • Scheduling a doctor visit. The start of the school year is a great time for parents to schedule their child’s annual checkup. The truth is, children are exposed to all kinds of germs at school. Aside from sending them to class in a plastic bubble (and earning them many a vicious nickname, to be sure!) this reality is unavoidable. When parents schedule annual exams at the start of the school year, their child’s immunizations are completely up-to-date from day one, putting them at the lowest possible risk of contracting diseases from fellow classmates.
    • Parents should note that although children who are planning on getting involved in school athletic programs often are required to get an exam before they can start practice with a team, these exams should not replace annual physicals from a family doctor; they aren’t as detailed, and a health concern could be overlooked. According to healthychildren.org, there’s nothing wrong with children having a regular checkup and the school-sponsored sports exam as long as parents know that creating a long-term history with a family doctor is invaluable.

The abrupt change in routine that the start of the new school year brings makes finding the right balance of home life, school, social activities, sports and extracurricular pursuits a challenging feat for any parent and child. The main thing to remember is that achieving this balance is impossible if children aren’t healthy and functioning to their full potentials. The Medical and Surgical Clinic of Irving is ready to assist parents with scheduling back-to-school checkups and immunization updates to ensure that their children’s first day of school is a smashing success.

Sources: News wise, Montefiore Medical Center; healthychildren.org