Make back to school easier

How can I help my child transition from the swimming pool to study hall?

Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten or the first year of high school, a few simple back-to-school preparations can help make the start of a new school year easier for your child.

Although many childhood diseases that were prevalent 50 years ago are no longer common, it’s still necessary to have your child vaccinated. In fact, all states require children to be immunized before they can attend school. Most states require that children receive the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DPT), polio and measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Children entering middle school should receive a second DPT and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Check with your child’s doctor to update immunizations.

It’s also important that students receive regular physical exams, and the end of summer is a good time to schedule eye and dental exams, as well as allergy checkups. If your child suffers from chronic conditions or must regularly take a prescription medicine, it is a good idea to talk with the school nurse before school starts.

Children who participate in sports will also need an athletic physical because it can help identify any conditions that may limit her ability or lead to injury.

Starting a new grade or a new school can be somewhat unsettling for some children. They may be nervous about finding their classroom or making new friends. However, parents can do a few simple things to help their children adjust to these changes, including visiting the school before the opening of the school year.

Many elementary schools offer kindergarten orientation programs that allow students to meet their teachers and see the classroom before the first day. Middle schools and high schools may offer similar programs, in which new students can find their lockers and classrooms, meet teachers and learn about extra-curricular activities. Encourage your children to make friends with neighborhood children who attend their school. Participating in summer sports and other activities may also facilitate friendships.

In addition, studies have shown that children who eat breakfast are more attentive in class, earn higher math grades and have fewer behavioral problems. Hectic schedules can make it difficult to ensure that your child eats a healthy meal, but parents can prepare simple, nutritious breakfasts that children can eat while waiting for the bus. Sliced fruit and bagels with cream cheese; whole-grain banana muffins; English muffins with peanut butter or shredded cheese; and yogurt with granola topping are great easy, healthy meals.

For more information about making the transition back to school easier for your children, contact the nurse or guidance counselor at your children’s school, or your family physician.