Are Your Children Ready to Hit the Books?

Before you get started on your children’s list of back-to-school supplies, take a few minutes to brush up on some health and wellness tips to ensure they’re ready to focus on learning.

Your child’s annual school physical helps assure you that they're developing properly and is healthy enough for school activities and sports. It’s also a great time for you to ask questions about how to best prepare your child for a successful school year. Go prepared with a list of questions, and keep these tips in mind, too.

• Immunizations—Hopefully, your children have been getting flu shots since they were 6 months old. If not, don’t let another flu season pass without having them vaccinated. School-age children also should receive vaccines for meningococcal meningitis and human papillomavirus, as well as a booster shot that protects them against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

• Meals—Breakfast gets children’s metabolism going and helps them focus in the classroom. Serve your children breakfasts rich in fiber, protein and whole grains. If your family doesn’t have time for a sit-down meal in the morning, tuck a banana or a healthy granola bar in your children’s backpacks for them to eat on the way to school. Think outside the lunchbox with a bento box—a Japanese lunch container with small compartments that are perfect for including a variety of healthful foods, like berries and pasta.

• Sleep—You may have been a bit lax with enforcing your children’s bedtimes during the summer, but with school set to resume, it’s time to get them back on schedule. Consistent bedtimes are key if schoolchildren are to get the recommended 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night they need for optimal performance in school. Make using electronics off-limits before bedtime, and don’t let them consume caffeine before bed.

Sources: cdc.gov, sleepfoundation.org, kidshealth.org, usnews.msnbc.msn.com, orthoinfo.aaos.org