2011 Back to School Guide

. January 29, 2013.

Back-to-School Health Checklist

Along with books and bedtimes, it's time to think about your child's health—before the school bell rings

Ah, the smell of sunscreen. The joy of homework-free evenings. The less-scheduled family calendar… How did summer pass so quickly?

Yep, it’s time to get the kids ready to head back to school. Are your child’s immunizations up to date? Does he need new glasses? What time should she go to bed? We’ve rounded up expert advice on all this and more so your kids will be ready for the big day!

1 Schedule a well-child checkup.
Most states require only two well-child exams for school enrollment: at the start of kindergarten and high school. Some states vary, so check with your school. An additional exam is often required for participation in a school sport. Check with your child’s doctor regarding how often to schedule additional well-child check-ups. During your child's checkup ask for a copy of his/her immunization record. For immunization schedules, safety reports and other frequently asked questions visit www.cispimmunize.org
2 Have your child's vision checked.
Basic vision screening should be performed by your child’s doctor at each well-child examination. If a child fails a vision screening, or if there is any concern about a vision problem, she should be referred for a comprehensive professional eye exam, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
3 Communicate about medications.
Does your child receive medication on a regular basis for diabetes, asthma or another chronic health problem? School nurses and teachers must be aware of your child's needs, especially if they are the ones who will administer the medicine. Speak with them about the prescribed medication schedule, and work out a course of action in case of an emergency.
4 Schedule testing if you suspect a learning disability or dyslexia.
If you feel your child may not be processing information as he/she should, speak with her teacher and her doctor as soon as possible.
5 Plan ahead for brain-power breakfasts.
Studies show that children who eat break
fast are more alert in class. Try to include protein (peanut butter, low-fat cheese, milk or yogurt are good choices), as well as fruit and whole grains.
6 Update emergency phone numbers.
Are your current emergency phone numbers on file at school? Make sure the school and your child know how to reach you or another caregiver at all times.
7 If your child has a cell phone, talk with him about when and where it can be used safely. Chatting on a cell phone or texting while walking or biking to school can be dangerous. Explain to your child the importance of paying attention to his surroundings and being aware of cars and bikes. Set a good example by not using a cell phone while driving.
8 Review school-bus safety rules.
Designate a safe place for your child to wait for the bus, away from traffic and the street. And review these safety rules, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with your child: When getting on the bus, wait for the driver's signal. When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the right. (It’s illegal, but it happens.) Move away from the bus. Before crossing the street, take five "giant steps" out from the front of the bus, or until the driver's face can be seen. Wait for the driver to signal that it's safe to cross. Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Ask the driver for help if you drop something near the bus.
9 Create a healthy sleep schedule.
The National Sleep Foundation says school-age kids need the following amounts of sleep, depending
on age:
Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours
Ages 5 to 10: 10 to 11 hours
Ages 10 to 17:8.5 to 9.25 hours
That can be a tough prescription to follow, with the increasing demands on kids’ time from homework, sports and other extracurricular activities. As they get older, school-aged children become more interested in TV, video games and the Web (as well as caffeinated beverages). This can lead to difficulty falling asleep and sleep disruptions. Poor sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems and cognitive problems that affect a child’s ability to learn.

Thinking outside the box
How to pack a great school lunch
A tin pail, a clean cloth, fried chicken and perhaps some johnny cake — such was the school lunch of prairie children in years gone by. Today’s parents remember their tin lunchboxes fondly. Like everything else, lunch has changed. Yet bringing food from home can still be a viable option for your family. Packing a lunch, whether for you, your spouse or your kids, can be a great way to save money, to ensure good nutrition,
or simply to add a little sunshine into the day of someone you love. Here are a few ideas for planning and organizing portable feasts that demonstrate your love!

Determine what resources are available at school or work. For instance, some schools provide microwaves for the children to use. If this is the case, you can send favorite leftovers to reheat. Perhaps single items are available for purchase, such as milk or juice. Knowing this will help you in your planning.
Create lists of favorite foods. Be sure to include sandwiches, side salads, fruits, baked goods, and snacks. While you may already know which breads, meats and cheeses your family likes, having this information on paper frees up space in your brain and makes it easier to plan and to add variety to the menu. Update this list as new tastes are introduced.
Plan a week of lunches. Make a chart of each weekday and the basic general plan for lunch. You can coordinate this with your dinner plans to use up leftovers or to balance out nutritional intakes Perhaps your little diners do like the same thing everyday, but they will enjoy it even more when you add a little variety to make things more interesting.
Think assembly line. Buy the huge bag of chips or cookies rather than the more expensive, individual sized bags. Spend a few minutes on Sunday night to divide that huge bag into smaller plastic bags. Store all your self-bagged goodies in a plastic box in the pantry, ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. Make everyone’s sandwich at the same time.
Include a little “warm fuzzy,” such as a note of encouragement and affection, a candy “kiss,” a “coupon” for a fun activity, or a handmade trivia card based on your child’s interests. Don’t feel obligated to do this all the time. But, a once-in-a-while surprise is a wonderful boost to anyone’s sense of being loved and cared for. With a little extra work and planning, you can prepare a meal your family will look forward to!

Study Time With summer winding down, it's that time of year again: back-to-school!
Brenda Said, director of the Great Lakes Educational Group in Saline, provided some useful tips for motivating a student for success with homework, along with finding the right tutor for your child.
Tips for Doing Homework:
1. Find a consistent time of the day and spot in the house for the student to do homework.
2. Spend a little time each day doing homework. This will develop a consistent work pattern so all the work isn’t crammed into one night.
3. Prepare a study spot that will have pencils, highlighters, calculators or anything else a student may need.
4. Be prepared for all tasks before beginning them.
5. Prioritize all work by beginning with the most difficult when a student’s mind is freshest.
6. Don’t do homework for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Take a break in between and exercise or eat a snack.
7. Stay focused the whole time on all tasks.
8. Always keep a positive attitude and visualize yourself being successful.

Finding a Good Tutor for Your Child:
1. Find a tutor who individualizes the student’s programs and will take the time to get to know the student personally.
2. The tutor should have many different approaches to studying and approaching the material.
3. Check to see if the tutor works with the school district. This will insure that the student is keeping up with school requirements.
4. Always find a tutor that the student
feels comfortable around.
5. Be sure your child views the tutor as a helper, not a grader.
6. Try and find someone that is highly recommended by others in the community who have found success with them.
7. Find a tutor that can keep a consistent
schedule with the student.
8. The tutor should be knowledgeable
in content area and have worked with it before.

152 S. Industrial Dr., Saline. 734-944-5658. www.greatlakeseducationalgroup.com

Home alone
When are children ready or not?
Last fall, I had a big decision to make: Whether or not to leave my children home alone after school until I finished my workday. Were they ready to handle it? Was I ready? How can you decide?
I sat down with my children, and together we came up with a list of house rules. Topics discussed included the following:
Who was allowed in the house while I was away.
 How they were to respond to the door bell.
 How they were to answer the phone.
 What food they could prepare.
How much time could be spent on the computer and watching TV.
Whether or not they could play outside.
What to do about the unexpected.

The list of rules was posted in the kitchen. Also posted (next to the telephone) was a list of emergency phone numbers such as 911, the doctor, and local fire and police. Other telephone numbers added to the list were their grandparent's house and a trusted neighbor's home.
 Because I knew my children needed to learn basic safety rules, we went over a simple fire escape plan, discussed how to operate a small fire extinguisher and covered basic first-aid.
 Finally, every night when I came home, we would take a few minutes to sit down and share the events of their day. Then I would ask them, "Were you comfortable here by yourselves?" Most always the answer was “yes.”
 Yes, my children were ready to stay home alone.

Kathy Sena is a freelance journalist who frequently covers children’s-health issues.

Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children.

Jessica Fisher is a freelance writer. When not packing lunches for her husband and six children, she regularly writes at www.lifeasmom.com.