Back-to-School Health Checklist
Experts say how to keep your child on the right track to health this school year.
Some important information parents should tell the school about
their child includes:
- Above all, make sure your child's emergency telephone number card is
accurate and kept current. "You can't just drop the kid off at school and
drive away," Mac Donald says. If you move or change a number, correct it
the next day. At her schools, numbers are listed in order they are to be
called: mother, father, grandmother, or whatever the parents designate. The
child's physician and dentist also need to be listed. "I have had to take a
kid with a knocked-out tooth to the dentist and have the mother meet me
there," she says. "We needed all the phone numbers."
- The school nurse and/or school secretary also needs to know what
medications your child takes, Mac Donald says. Even if the child takes the
medication only at home, the nurse should know. If the child is to take the
drugs at school, she says, they must be in the pharmacy bottle, clearly marked
(not an envelope, for instance).
- Any health problems should be made known to the school. Allergies are a
good example. "There are so many [allergies] now to foods, plants, trees,
beestings, or latex. The school has to know in advance," Mac Donald
- Also inform the school of physical restrictions. Does the child have
asthma, a scoliosis brace, or a heart murmur? How should this affect physical
Tests and Services the School May Perform
Some schools are sending home "weight report cards,"
advising parents how to deal with childhood obesity. Mac Donald's district does
color testing, especially in boys, in the early elementary years. Hearing tests
are performed in kindergarten, second grade, fifth grade, eighth grade,
10th grade, and in special education, too.
Scoliosis screens may also be given to see if your child's
spine is growing according to plan. Does your child have a shoulder or hip
higher than the other? This can be picked up. "The spine can curve so much
it puts pressure on the heart," Mac Donald says.
Children also are worked up to see if they could benefit from
special education. "Many of our children had parents who used drugs or
alcohol and their nervous systems were affected," Mac Donald says.
"They need special training and treatment."
The school may also give health training. "I think that
would be good," Santesteban says.
What Else Can Parents Do?
"The school said to be sure the kids wore closed-toe
shoes," Santesteban says. The American Academy of Pediatrics also advises
that parents not strap a jumbo backpack on their children -- never more than
20% of the child's body weight (those books can add up). Some children even
prefer a rolling backpack like the wheeled suitcase their parents take on
business trips. Make sure the backpack has wide straps and a padded back.