School has started – parents should be sure their kids are ready

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School has started – parents should be sure their kids are ready

While summer is not entirely gone, the first crisp, cool breezes of autumn have slipped through some parts of the United States. September is here and so is school. Even after the first day begins, though, parents may be wondering if they have prepared their children with everything they need. So, while kids may have already had their first day in class, families should double-check that there won't be any problems throughout the year.

Backpacks
In 2012, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that 13,700 kids needed to see a doctor due to backpack-related injuries. Too many children are carrying more than they should on their shoulders. To avoid injury, they should not tote more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight.

There are a few things parents should do to help this. One is to ensure that their children wear an appropriately sized backpack. If it is too large, then more can be put into it, and the chance of an injury is greater. Additionally, they should always wear both arm straps and the waist strap if the backpack has one. This distributes the weight more evenly.

School lunches
While most schools provide lunch to students, they do not always have the healthiest options. The California Report recently noted that federal lunch reimbursement requires schools to serve vegetables to children, but that does not guarantee that everything else they offer is particularly healthy. Additionally, kids can occasionally be picky eaters, so preparing their lunch can improve the chance that they will eat right.

Another thing for parents to keep in mind is that the school may not be providing enough time for students to finish their lunch. The Report noted that while many states and organizations recommend a minimum of 20 minutes to eat, not all education providers follow that suggestion. So even as parents try and prepare healthy meals, they may also want to pack food that their kids can finish eating before heading back to class.

Sleep
This may seem obvious, but after a few months of enjoying the sun and free time, children may not be used to going to bed and waking up at a certain time. To make sure that they get to school on time – without missing the bus – parents should set a bedtime and be there to help kids wake up in the morning. Limiting television and video game time at night can also encourage them to sleep when they should. If they are active right up until their bedtime, they will have a more difficult time settling down for the night. A full night's rest is an important part of children's health and wellness, so families should try and shift from the summer schedule and back to the school one. 

Medication
When parents have children with chronic pediatric medical conditions, it is extremely important that they ensure that their kids take their medication throughout the day. Even if a family has discussed self-treatment in past school years, the summer months may have changed their routine, so it is helpful to remind children of their responsibilities again. Parents should also speak with the school about the disorder, since the staff may be unaware of it. Even if a kid is going to the same place he or she did last year, the medical professionals may have changed, and new teachers may not have been informed about the child.

One way that parents can encourage their children to take their medication is to give them an additional incentive that makes them want to use it. Making medicine taste better can turn what was once a chore into a treat.

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