Back to School Tips from Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital
The first day of school always requires preparations—notebooks, pens and a new set of clothes. But don’t forget to prepare for your child’s health, says Dr. Pamela F. Gallin, a pediatric ophthalmologist with the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, a mother of four, and the author of The Savvy Mom’s Guide to Medical Care. Dr. Gallin provides parents and caregivers with tips to help their kids get a smart start to the academic year.
• Have your child’s vision screened. It is important for children to have an annual vision screening because young children, especially, often don’t know if they can’t see adequately. If your child wears glasses, be sure that the prescription is current. If you child cannot see, they cannot learn properly.
• Have your child’s hearing tested. Most states now mandate hearing tests for babies. But many school-age children have not been tested. If your child is listening to the television or music at a very high volume, or tends to favor one ear over the other when listening to you speak, it may be a sign of hearing loss.
• Be equipped for sports. For children who wear glasses, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends one-piece wraparound polycarbonate sports frames for all contact sports, including soccer, field hockey and basketball. All children wearing spectacles need sports frames for gym. All children are being urged to use sports frames for contact sports.
• Are your child’s immunizations up-to-date? The last thing you want is for your child to be turned away from school on the first day because he or she was not properly immunized. New immunizations, such as Hepatitis B, are now required. Check with your child’s pediatrician.
• Have you noticed your child scratching his or her scalp since camp ended? It may be a sign that a case of lice was contracted during the summer. Head lice will not go by itself, but can be treated with over-the-counter remedies.
• Does your child receive medication on a regular basis for diabetes, asthma or another chronic problem? School nurses and teachers must be made aware of your child’s needs, especially if they are the ones who administer the medicine. Make sure emergency medications are close at hand—that your child, their teacher and the nurse know where they are.
• Is your child anxious and apprehensive? Most children are naturally anxious about the new school year. It normally takes about a month for children to adjust to new situations. A new school, fear of a class bully, or taking a school bus for the first time may cause anxieties. If after a few weeks, your child continues to be anxious and apprehensive, bring this to the attention of his or her teacher so that you can identify the source of his anxiety and work out a solution.
• Do you suspect a learning disability or dyslexia? If you suspect that your child is not processing information as he or she should, speak to the teacher or learning center in your child’s school as soon as possible.
• Does your child eat breakfast? Studies show that children who eat breakfast are more alert in class. Also, be sure that your child has a balanced, nutritious lunch, whether it is one you send or one provided by the school cafeteria.
• Are your up-to-date emergency phone numbers on file? Make sure that both the school and your child know how to reach you or another caregiver at all times.
“Your child will have a great year in school if you make sure that the teacher understands all your child’s special needs,” says Dr. Gallin. “But remember, just as a child may be overwhelmed by school the first day, often so are the teachers.” For more information, patients may call (866) NYP-NEWS.#