When summer ends and school begins, it can be a difficult transition for parents and kids. Here are a few things to help your family sail through September in good health.
Take time for sleep.
Adults typically need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and school-age children need 9 to 11 hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, students who get between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night can improve their health, safety, academic performance and quality of life. Setting a regular sleep schedule is recommended for everyone.
Get family flu shots.
It may be hard to think about the colds and flu during late summer days, but flu outbreaks can happen as early as October. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after a flu immunization for antibodies to develop in your body that provide protection from the flu.
Aim for 60 minutes of exercise each day.
While young athletes easily get enough exercise from practice and games, not all children and adolescents like sports or outdoor activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Let your child know that playing computer games does not count as exercise! The 60 minutes of daily exercise can be broken into shorter blocks of time, so a 10-minute walk to and from school counts toward the goal. For younger children, active play is the best way to get exercise.
Heart screening for young athletes.
If you have an athlete in the house, a physical evaluation is usually required by schools and many sporting organizations before they participate. However,
sudden cardiac arrest – the leading cause of death in young athletes – is most commonly set off by problems such as structural heart disorders or electrical circuitry issues that are not usually found during routine physical examinations. UW Medicine’s sports cardiology experts recommend a heart screening every 1 to 2 years for young athletes because their hearts change as they mature. Learn more at UWMedicine.org/sports-medicine or call 855-520-5151 to schedule a heart screening.
Make healthy eating an easy option.
The beginning of the school year is busy – it’s easy to go with the most convenient option for snacks. However, the quick convenience of fast food isn’t very healthy. Instead, keep fresh, ready-to-go snacks in the refrigerator, such as celery, carrots and yogurt.
Eating a healthy breakfast helps make your child ready to learn. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that a healthy breakfast is crucial to provide children with the nutrients and energy needed to succeed in school. Visit
KidsEatRight.org to learn about healthy eating ideas for kids of all ages.
Watch out for anxiety.
Everyone can feel some anxiety when starting something new – whether it’s a new school or just a new school year. Setting a daily routine can help manage this period of adjustment. Signs that anxiety is becoming a problem include missed school, social isolation, irritability and unexplained physical complaints. Teens with untreated anxiety often have difficulty doing well in school, making and keeping friends, and building self-esteem. Many anxious teens have more than one mental health problem — for example, they are frequently depressed — so getting evaluated and treated is extremely important.
When in doubt about sending your child to school, contact a healthcare provider.
If you’re unsure about sending your child to school or a fun activity, contact your family provider or pediatrician. This is much better than making a guess that results in spreading a virus or an infection, such as pink eye, to your kid’s classmates and friends.
If the problem occurs when your primary care clinic isn’t open, the UW Medicine Virtual Clinic can be reached from the comfort of your home, any time of the day or night. A virtual clinic provider can let you know if your child should stay home and recommend home care options, suggest over-the-counter treatments, write a prescription and help locate a pharmacy if needed. Visit
uwmedicine.org/virtualclinic for more information.