Back-to-School Health Checklist
Experts say how to keep your child on the right track to health this school year.
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.
If children are hanging back or seem anxious about the first
day, explain that their friends are waiting to see them again. Maybe another
child in the neighborhood could come along the first day.
Be sure you have arrangements for after-school, too.
Parents must also be sure the child has sufficient sleep,
usually eight hours for a growing child and even more for a teen. And the child
should go off with a good breakfast. Sometimes kids can eat at school, too, but
nutrition helps the child to focus and concentrate.
"Actually, that's something the schools could do
better," Santesteban says. "Serve better food. Some of the stuff is
nasty and cheap, like deep-fried pancakes on a stick. My son doesn't eat
breakfast at school, but he would like to, for that very reason."