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How do I decrease my child's anxiety about starting school?

Health and Wellness
Springfield Public Schools, Springfield, Mo.

For a happier, healthier transition, don't wait until the night before school starts to set up sleep and nutrition routines that might not have been strictly enforced over the summer. Try setting bed and wake-up times a few weeks before school starts and gradually adjusting them to be earlier as the first day approaches.

Also, take a trip to the school in advance so children know where their classroom is. Give them a chance to meet their teacher, the school nurse, and other staff, if possible. If your child has a chronic health condition requiring medication, such as asthma or diabetes, a food allergy, or any type of health-care concern requiring special attention, contact the school nurse early to put a plan in place well in advance of the first day of school.

Immunizations, which are a very necessary part of the back-to-school routine, can be a little scary for kids, but you don't need to drag them kicking and screaming to the doctor's office. Ease kids' worries by talking with them about the health benefits of vaccines so they understand why the shots are important and are less anxious about getting them. Make sure immunizations are current and ask your doctor about other immunizations that might be recommended but not required, such as the flu vaccine.