Wow! It’s almost time to head back to school! Summer ends way too quickly, it seems, especially for the little ones who now have to trudge back out to school every day (and the littler ones who are attending for the first time). The schoolyard brings with it a host of health and safety concerns for children. Here are a few things to be mindful of going through the year:
Always know how your children are getting to school. If it is by car, make sure you can be confident on the safety of the situation, and that they are required to wear a seat belt. If your family is utilizing public school transportation every day, make sure that the children understand basic bus safety and protocol, such as waiting on the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it and sitting calmly and correctly in their seat during the ride. Get to know the driver if you can, so your children can feel safer around them. Some older children may be responsible for their own transportation, and if so, be certain that you know the route they take and that they are following basic safety precautions (such as wearing a helmet if they are biking).
Always know what your children are eating throughout the day, so that you can ensure they are getting a proper diet. Most schools that serve lunches offer pre-planned meal listings, so you can know the menu each day of the week. You may wish to prepare a lunch and snack if your child doesn’t like a particular day’s offering. If your child has food allergies, or special dietary needs, these must be communicated to the school officials.
It’s easy to see all children as little virus hosts, roaming around infecting the unsuspecting like tiny zombies. Some children seem to always be getting sick! In truth, children are more likely to catch a cold or flu from their peers. Have your kids vaccinated against common contagions, including flu. Teach them to cough and sneeze into a hanky or elbow. If your child has any sort of health problem that may be spread (fever, lice, etc.), keep them away from school and make sure the issue is treated. Communicate with the school officials if you fear that your child has caught something or may have passed it along.
This is a serious one. Bullying is one of the most common health concerns in a public school, as it can be a daily problem and lead to a whole host of issues, both physical and mental. Talk to your children about their day, and try to understand the intricacies of their school relationships. If you fear that your child is being bullied (or, heavens forbid, that your child IS a bully) discuss the situation with school officials and see that an end is put to it.
This one seems a bit silly at first, I suppose, but it is a real problem. Your kids have to tote a lot of things to and from school each day. Heavy books, reams of paper, pens, glue, scissors, folders, homework, calculators--it all adds up. Children are literally carrying the weight of their world around on their shoulders at school. This can lead to serious neck and back issues for them. Find out the best fitting pack for your child’s body, and try not to over exert them with their load.
These are just a few of the things parents should be considering as their wee ones wander off to school. The primary tool available for avoiding such problems is communication. Talk to your child, their school, their doctors, etc., and know what problems may be plaguing them day to day. Your kid’s health and safety is worth the conversation.
The Children’s Clinic is a professional association of pediatricians that have been providing the people of Tennessee with quality care for decades. Our highly qualified staff offers compassionate, personalized care from birth through the teenage years. Our office is located at 264 Coatsland Drive in Jackson, TN. You can reach us by calling 731-423-1500 or via our website, www.thechildrensclinicpa.com.