(8/08/11) – Back to School Checklist
Dr. Brian S. Naylor, McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence West
Each school year has unique challenges whether your child is starting kindergarten or college. Families must balance home life, school, social activities, sports, and extracurricular pursuits. This is difficult, especially during a time when the child is passing through the years of growth, learning, exploration, as well as emotional and physical development.
Yearly back to school well visits with your child’s pediatrician can help make the transition to the new school year easier. These visits provide an opportunity to give the child a thorough physical exam, assess development, and give guidance. Well visits for teenagers should also be used to address important issues such as puberty, drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression.
Your child’s pediatrician has the benefit of knowing important past illnesses or injuries which the child may forget to mention on a sports physical questionnaire. Having a long-term history with a child or adolescent gives the doctor awareness of the child’s progress and development allowing the pediatrician to detect new issues and address them sooner.
During well visits, pediatricians will also be sure that your child meets the state requirements for immunizations and discuss recommended vaccines as well.
To enter Kindergarten in South Carolina, children must be up to date for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella (chicken pox).
To enroll in a licensed daycare or 4K program, children must be up to date for the above immunizations as well as pneumococcal and haemophilus influenzae Type B vaccines. These requirements can also be found on the DHEC website (www.scdhec.gov).
Recommended immunizations can be found on the CDC website (www.cdc.gov).
Health forms need to be completed to include any new issues that may have developed since last school year. Action plans should be in place for medical issues such as asthma and food allergies. Schools may have a specific form, if not these may be obtained from your child’s pediatrician. Make arrangements for any medications that may need to be taken at school. It may be beneficial to make an appointment with the school nurse to discuss any medical conditions.
A child’s extracurricular interests can improve a child’s self-esteem, but they can also harm it. These activities may include choir, band, sports, academics, the performing arts, etc. If there’s too much pressure, whether it is from parents or peers, emotional issues may arise. The interest should be balanced with the other aspects of the child’s life.
Communication with Teachers
In the days before school or during the first few days of school it is beneficial to learn the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher. Many teachers address this initially and tell you about the preferred method of communication. This may include placing notes in your child’s folder, e-mail or meeting with the teacher.
Be sure to find out the daily schedule prior to the first day of school. This will allow you to prepare your child for the new routine. It may be beneficial to adjust your family’s routine the week prior to the start of school. Bedtimes may need to be adjusted from the summer schedule so that your child will get enough sleep prior to the start of school.
If your child riding a bike or walking to school or the bus stop, review safety precautions regarding traffic and strangers. It is a good idea to walk the route with the child prior to school starting to help identify any potential safety issues.
Be sure your child knows where to go after school. If you will not be there when they arrive, do they know who will be re¬sponsible for them, what the rules are, and how to get help in an emergency?
Children should eat breakfast each day before school, whether at home or at school prior to class. Eating breakfast has been shown to improve school performance and help prevent overeating later in the day.
Review the lunch menu prior to each school day and help your child make healthy food choices. If your child is taking his or her lunch be sure to include healthy foods. If your child has a relatively late lunch, find out if a morning snack is needed.
Development and Behavioral Concerns
If your child has developmental or behavioral issues that will need to be addressed during the school year, it is often helpful to have this plan in place prior to the start of school or early in the school year. Whether your child needs therapy, resource classes or special accommodations the pediatrician can help you determine the best plan for your family and make sure that your child’s educational needs are being met.
Your child’s pediatrician can address these and other specific back to school concerns that may be unique to your child at well visits. Back to school topics are also addressed on the American Academy of Pediatrics website www.aap.org and www.HealthyChildren.org.
References: American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org.
Brian Scott Naylor, M.D., of McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence, is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Naylor values treating children from birth through adolescence for all general pediatric issues. Dr. Naylor cares for patients at the McLeod Pediatric Associates of Florence West office, located at 3013 West Palmetto Street, Florence (behind McLeod Urgent Care Center). To make an appointment with Dr. Naylor, please call 843-777-7604.