August 29, 2013
By Tom Canty, Vice President and General Manager, Empire BlueCross BlueShield Government, Labor and Special Accounts
Labor Day seems to be synonymous with heading back to school. So, you’ve probably stocked up on school supplies, hit the back to school clothing sales and bought the latest superhero or princess lunch box. Getting your child ready for the annual return to the classroom is a good cue to not only make sure they’ve got the right materials but also to tune up their health habits.
Ensuring your child is well-rested, properly immunized and getting nutritious meals can help them reach their full academic potential by helping them to focus better on their school work and cut down on sick days.
Here’s a checklist to help get start the academic year off right:
• Childhood immunizations can help prevent the devastating effects of many infectious diseases. Many states require that children have their vaccinations up-to-date before being admitted to a school or day care program. Check your child’s vaccination records to make sure they are current or to call your child's doctor to verify that all of your child's immunizations are up-to-date and see if you need to schedule an appointment.
• Getting your child to bed at a consistent time every night is perhaps just as important for cognitive development as whether they fall asleep early, according to a recent study from University College London. The study released in July is part of a growing body of research that shows inadequate sleep in children and adolescents can hurt their academic performance and brain development.
• Need inspiration beyond the old PB&J for school lunch? The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website includes kid-friendly lunches that feature food kids and adults alike should eat more of, like dark green vegetables, beans and whole grains. The online pin board Pinterest is also an ever-reliable resource of healthy and creative ideas for kids’ school lunches, with boards specializing in gluten-free, vegetarian and teen lunches.
• Good vision is essential for helping your child focus in the classroom – roughly 80 percent of what a child learns in school is information that’s presented visually. Keeping up on routine eye exams ensure that your child is able to read the blackboard as well as the books on their desk.
• Many parents make sure that their child is current on their annual physical exam, but a visit to the dentist is sometimes an afterthought. More than 51 million school hours are lost each year nationwide because of dental-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and more than three quarters of 17-year-olds have experienced tooth decay. Routine dental exams can help catch problems early.
Reviewing your child’s health habits, from annual eye exams to bedtimes, should be part of every parent’s back-to-school checklist. Get them off to the best start possible for the new school year!