Believe it or not, we are now just two weeks away from the first day of a new school year — give or take a day or two in some local school districts.
The countdown is on for parents buying new school clothing and gathering school supplies.
It is a busy time of year, but health advocates remind us not to allow health checks to get lost in the shuffle.
Many standard health examinations are mandated. For example, in Pennsylvania, all students must have a physical examination before they enter kindergarten or the first grade, in grade 6 and in grade 11. Dental examinations are required for young pupils just entering school as well as in grades 3 and 7. Growth screenings, basic vision tests and a review of immunization records are done every year.
But in an interesting back-to-school health graphic for parents, pediatric health professionals at Johns Hopkins Medicine focus on a number of other healthy tips, including nutrition, sleep, dealing with bullies and developing parental partnerships in your child’s education, health and wellness.
In an infographic titled “Back-to-School Health: 4 Tips for Parents” Johns Hopkins recommends focusing on your child’s nutrition, noting that 17 percent of youth ages 2 to 19 are obese and that 40 percent of your child’s daily calorie intake comes from added sugars and fats.
If you have a picky eater, continue introducing new foods, be a role model for a healthy diet and don’t use food as a reward, the graphic recommends.
Tip Two encourages parents to understand the risks that children face in school, including bullying, head lice and challenges posed by poor vision.
Tip Three is simple: Make sleep a priority.
Sleep is equally as important as diet and exercise and most healthy children need eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, the graphic notes. Children — and adults — lose sleep to overuse of digital devices, so it is important to establish a sleep ritual that includes putting away all electronic devices one hour before bedtime.
The fourth tip suggests that parents become a partner in their child’s education, health and wellness by talking with teachers about their child’s likes and dislikes, strengths, struggles and preferred learning styles.
The next two weeks before school begins is a great time to reset priorities and prepare for a successful and healthy school year. To see the Johns Hopkins Medicine graphic, visit online at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/back-to-school-health-tips-for-parents-infographic
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.