The return to school this year may be different, which makes it even more important for parents to make sure their students have their back-to-school checkup. This season can be a great opportunity to focus on health and wellness for the entire family and this year is no exception.
If “mental, physical and emotional wellness” are not already on your family’s back-to-school checklist, considering adding the following “check-ups” and “check-ins” to your late summer planning:
- A back-to-school check-up: This check-up can be part of your kids’ annual exams as well as a sport-related or school physical. During a well child visit, your doctor will measure height and weight, overall growth, vision and hearing during a head-to-toe exam. August is also National Immunization Awareness Month so this presents a perfect opportunity to ensure everyone in your family is up-to-date on vaccinations.
- A stress check-up: Parents and guardians should be aware that returning to school can be stressful for many kids, whether it is simply the change in schedule or issues such as peer pressure and bullying. Warning signs of stress can include upset stomachs, headaches, trouble sleeping, nightmares, decreased appetite and/or binge-eating, heart palpitations and more. If you notice such symptoms, talk to your kids about what they are thinking and experiencing and do your best to listen without judging or interrupting. Ensure that sleep is a priority, set expectations for what is to come this school year, avoid overscheduling, practice relaxation techniques and get additional help, if needed.
- A nutrition check-up: Summer can be busy; sometimes healthy meal planning goes out the window. If you notice your kids have been eating more ice cream and less fruit and vegetables, refocus your family’s efforts on nutrition. Encourage your kids to participate when you prepare healthy meals and include them in meal planning and grocery shopping, allowing them to select some entrees and ingredients; likewise, it is important to ensure that their school lunches include whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and all-around balance. Good nutrition can make it easier to focus in class and easier to perform in extracurricular activities.
- An exercise check-up: Kids involved in sports often get plenty of exercise between practices and games or meets. However, with the reduction or elimination of sports or active endeavors, students can struggle with the adverse health effects of being more sedentary. Exercise can be as simple as a brisk walk, going swimming, playing a game of volleyball in the back yard or following along with a yoga podcast. Parents and guardians who are active themselves are great role models for the kids who look up to them.
Even though this year looks different, this back-to-school period is a great time for checking up and checking in to ensure your kids’ physical, mental and emotional wellness are prioritized. When kids return to school feeling good, they are set up for a successful year to come.