Health on the Frontlines: Back to School Health Checklist

Tuning the intrument. Little boy with phoropter having testing his eyes in the doctor's office for back to school health checklist
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The back to school health checklist is very important for our kids to keep up with their mental and physical health.

Start with the annual physical to make sure your child is up to date with their immunizations.

Then take your children for an eye exam with a board-certified ophthalmologist to check for myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism, which are inherited eye shapes that require visual correction with eye glasses or contacts. In the last 31 years, I have seen countless kids getting MRIs and brain scans for severe headaches and learning issues when all they needed was a pair of glasses.

If your child takes medications, contact the school prior to the start date to make arrangements with the school nurse for midday medicine administration.

Summer can disrupt the sleep routines, so start a regimental sleep and wake routine two weeks before school starts and take away electronics before sleep. Sleep hygiene is critical for school performance and mental and physical health. Ten hours of sleep for kids 12 and under and nine hours for teenagers is a good rule of thumb for sleep hygiene.

Avoid heavy backpacks that weigh more than 15% of body weight and use both straps to distribute weight to avoid back strain and pulled muscles.

Emphasize the importance of frequent hand washing and avoid touching the face and eyes during cold season.

Send your kids to school with healthy snacks and avoid sugary drinks and high fructose corn syrup.

Create a loving and positive environment, and do not fight or yell and scream in front of kids. This type of behavior is fuel for anxiety, uncertainty or depression. If your kids are in a divorced situation, avoid parental alienation or speaking ill of the other parent because it will come back to haunt you when they become adults. Do not pass around poison because it can spill on you and your children. Keep a calm environment before school starts. Hug your kids everyday and tell them you love them.

Think positive and test negative.

Peter Michalos, MD is an FAAO board-certified ophthalmologist, clinical associate professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and a Southampton resident.

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