by Kimberly Bougoulias, MD for Lake Mary Life
As summer vacations come to an end, parents and students are readying themselves for the start of a new school year. This is an exciting time that may be filled with feelings of anticipation, nervousness, and a bit of sadness that summer is over. As you prepare to send your child to school, here are some helpful tips and safety information for you to consider.
If you had not done so already, now is the time to make sure that incoming kindergartners and seventh graders have had all of their required immunizations to begin school. Additionally, all kindergartners and students enrolling into a new school will need a documented physical exam done within the last year. Please contact your pediatrician’s office as soon as possible to schedule the physical exam and vaccines if needed and/or to request these necessary forms to be completed. These routine exams and screenings help to prevent, identify, and treat health problems when they arise. And vaccines greatly reduce your child’s risk of serious illnesses.
Transitioning to a regular bedtime or sleep routine a few weeks before school starts will help students with the adjustment and demands of that first week of a new school year. It is a fact that children’s health, behavior, and learning are negatively affected by a lack of adequate sleep. So how much sleep should your child aim for? Kids aged 3-6 years old need 10-12 hours per day, 7-12 years old need 10-11 hours per day, and 12-18 years old require 8-9 hours per day. Eliminating “screen time” (TV viewing, computer use, hand-held gaming devices, cell phone texting, etc) 2 hours before bedtime helps with the process of falling asleep.
Many schools have summer reading and math assignments and hopefully, if applicable, your child will work on those ahead of time. School supply lists are available for most schools and can be found online or at nearby stores where school supplies are sold. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete these assignments or gather the necessary materials for school. Elementary students may be able to bring in their supplies ahead of time on their orientation day, easing up the load and stress of that first day of school.
Backpacks and general safety tips
Here are a few tips regarding backpacks. A backpack should never weigh more than 10-20 percent of the student’s body weight. Your child should use both shoulder straps to reduce muscle strain and back pain.
And lastly, teach your kids these safety travel tips to keep them safe as they travel to and from school. School bus riders should not play in the street while waiting for the bus. Instead, they should remain on the sidewalk facing the direction of the bus. When departing the bus, before crossing the street, they should walk at least 10 steps in front of the bus so that the driver can see them. Pedestrians should never travel alone; it’s advisable for them to find a buddy to walk with. Bike riders should always wear a helmet. Always respect traffic lights and stop signs.
Dr. Kimberly Bougoulias is a pediatrician at the Lake Mary office of Physician Associates of Florida. This article was originally published in the July/August issue of Lake Mary Life.
Lake Mary Life Magazine is the premier lifestyle publication in the Lake Mary area, dedicated to publishing positive and uplifting stories about our community. Lake Mary Life is a partner of GalTime Orlando.