Mayo Clinic Health System reminds parents and students to keep health as a top priority for back to school activities.

“Preparing to return to the classroom should include more than new notebooks and a backpack,” says Chris Schimming, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System in Waseca medical director. “By taking healthy steps before school begins, students and their parents can help ensure the coming year is as successful as possible.”

Schimming offers this back to school advice:

Make sure immunizations are up to date. Many schools require this before a student can attend classes; and not all immunizations require a visit to a medical clinic. Check with your local pharmacy, urgent care or express care clinic for vaccine availability.

Get your child’s hearing and vision checked. The simple fact is kids who can’t see or hear well can’t perform as well in school.

Schedule a back-to-school medical exam or sports physical if your child is participating in organized athletics. This is best done four to six weeks before an organized activity begins.

Establish sufficient sleep as a priority. A growing child usually needs eight hours of sleep each night; teenagers even more. It’s better to get into the habit of getting enough sleep before school starts than to wait until classes begin.

Emphasize healthy meals. Proper nutrition helps students focus and concentrate. Make sure your child has a good breakfast, and take note of what schools offer — it’s a good idea to pack healthy alternatives.

Develop good hygiene habits. Make sure everyone washes their hands after using the restroom and before eating a meal or a snack. Provide hand sanitizer to your kids for those times when hand washing isn’t an option.

Ensure the school nurse and school secretary know about any health concerns, including allergies and physical restrictions your child may have. They also need to know what medication your child takes.

Make sure your child’s emergency contact information is accurate and current.

Manage stress. Back to school can be stressful for parents and students alike. Help reduce that stress by talking openly to your kids about things that may be bothering them. And take time to relax, play and spend time as a family.

“While you make your back to school shopping list, make a back to school health list,” says Schimming. “And keep in mind, what applies to your kids usually applies to us as adults, too.”

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