We are approaching the final weeks of summer vacation and soon children
across Iredell County will be back in the classroom. One of the keys to
a successful school year is taking steps to make sure your child is healthy
and ready to learn. Lori Sumner, PA-C of Pellegrino Family Medicine in
Mooresville, answers important back-to-school health questions to help
you and your family start this school year off on the right foot.
Q: Do all children need to have a physical at the beginning of the school year?
A: Yearly physicals are beneficial to parents and children for preventive
screening. These exams allow for monitoring of growth and developmental
milestones, immunization status, vision concerns, and attention to family
history that could be risk factors for your children. Often, there’s
no time to address these issues during sick visits so it is recommended
to have an annual physical each year.
Q: When should parents take their children for an eye exam? What are some
red flags for vision problems?
A: Most of a child’s learning is visual, so vision screening should
be performed on a regular basis. Early signs of visual disturbance include
sitting too close to the TV, eye rubbing, squinting, headaches, light
sensitivity, eyes hurting, and problems with academic performance.
Q: How can parents prevent back problems from overloaded backpacks?
A: We know how heavy our kid’s backpacks are! Shop for a backpack that
is made of a lightweight material and has individual compartments for
books and computers. Shoulder straps should be padded and wide (about
2”). Encourage your child to only carry what is necessary for that
day in school, especially if they are on an “A day” or “B
Q: How can parents help establish a good sleep schedule for the school year?
A: Routine is key. Encourage your child to go to bed near the same time every
night, and try to stay close to the same schedule on the weekends. Avoid
a lot of physical activity right before bedtime and encourage a quiet
period 30 minutes before bedtime. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature
and avoid having children fall asleep with a TV on.
Q: What kind of medical information should I share with my child’s
school? (Allergies, medical conditions, etc.)
A: Make sure all emergency contact information is up to date at the school.
Schools should be aware of any medications that your child is regularly
taking and any chronic conditions that your child is under medical care
for. Allergies should be documented along with any emergency action plans
that are in place from your child’s doctor.
Q: Is there anything else parents should keep in mind health-wise as kids
go back to school?
A: Healthy students are better learners. Encourage your child to eat a well-balanced
diet with foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals as opposed to
a diet full of processed foods, sweets, and fried foods. Participating
in regular physical activity at least 30 minutes daily has been shown
to increase concentration and focus.
To schedule your child’s back-to-school checkup or to make an appointment
for anyone in your family, call Pellegrino Family Medicine at 704-360-9299.