The days of summer are dwindling, which means it’s time for families to prepare their children to go back to school. Dr. Joseph J. Abularrage, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens offers the following tips to prepare their children for a healthy and safe school year.
“As children grow, it’s essential to make sure they are eating well, staying active and getting enough sleep,” said Dr. Abularrage. “A few late summer adjustments can help children have a safe and productive school year.”
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens’ Dr. Abularrage practice provides the following tips concerning children’s sleep schedule, backpacks, nutrition and overall health.
1. Set up a consistent sleep schedule. During the summer, children may grow accustomed to both falling asleep and waking at later times. As the summer comes to a close, gradually alter bed times until your child is accustomed to his/her school year sleep schedule.
2. Take away mobile or tablet devices before bed. Smart phones and tablets emit “blue light,” which gives our body a false signal that it’s morning, making it difficult to fall asleep.
3, Make sure your child wears their backpack properly. Children should always use both straps on their backpack. Wearing a backpack with just one strap can put too much stress on certain parts of the body leading to lower back pain or poor posture.
4. Monitor the weight of your child’s backpack. Make sure your child is not carrying too much in his/her backpack. If you think your child is carrying too much home, talk to your child’s teachers on ways to reduce the load.
5. Check in on school lunch to avoid allergies or unhealthy decisions. If your children have allergies, make sure to check in on the school’s lunch menu to avoid any reactions. It is critical to make sure your child’s teacher, the school’s administration and the school nurse are made aware of any allergies. Further, if the menu offering does not meet your nutritional needs be sure to pack your child’s lunch.
6. Make sure your child eats breakfast. Numerous studies demonstrate that students who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in the classroom. Make sure your child eats three square meals a day and does not skip breakfast.
7. Schedule a physical. Remember to set up an appointment with your child’s physician prior to the beginning of the school year. This can ensure that your child is up to date on his/her vaccines. If your child is an athlete, you can also set up a sports physical, so your child can join their team with little to no obstacles.
8. Keep your children active. According to the National Academy of Sciences, fewer than half of America’s youth meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Children need 60 minutes of vigorous to moderate intensity activity a day. Make sure to work in exercise or vigorous play for your child outside of school.
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, located in Flushing, New York, is a community teaching hospital affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine that serves Queens and metro New York residents. The 535-bed tertiary care facility provides services in 14 clinical departments and numerous subspecialties, including 15,000 surgeries and 4,000 infant deliveries each year. With its network of affiliated primary and multispecialty care physician practices and community-based health centers, the hospital provides approximately 162,000 ambulatory care visits and 124,000 emergency service visits annually.