Back to School Tips!
By Jasmine K. Waipa, MD, FAAP - [email protected]
July 29, 2015

It's hard to believe that the summer is almost over and the new school year is about to begin! We hope that you have soaked up all the sunshine you could (while wearing a hat, sunglasses, and SPF 30 sunscreen for protection, of course!) and hit the beach (with water safety in mind!) while you had more free time. In preparing for heading back to school, here are a few things to remember:

Is your child due for a physical exam, for school or sports? Check with your doctor to see if it's been over a year or two since your child's last physical exam. At these exams, we make sure your child is a healthy weight (weight gain is very common over the summer, and we can help you determine if it's normal or too much), with healthy vision and hearing, and up-to-date immunizations. It's often forgotten that starting at age 11, your child is due for boosters of their immunizations as well as brand new ones.


Is your child's backpack too heavy? With all of the books and supplies needed to succeed in school, children are often carrying a heavy load. Make sure their backpack is not more than 20% of their body weight and does not rest too low on their backs, which can lead to back strain and pain. Also it's important to use both straps on both shoulders (instead of one or two straps slung over one shoulder), in order to distribute the weight of the bag evenly and prevent back strain.


Is your child getting enough sleep? With early morning rising to get to school on time, children might be missing more sleep than they should. For most children, 9 hours of sleep per night is still recommended for optimal brain and body rest and growth (essential growth hormone is secreted only when sleeping, and this is what helps their bones grow longer and makes them taller)!


Are their school health records up to date? Make sure that the health office at school is up to date with the latest information on your child's medications, allergies, and potentially emergency conditions, such as asthma. If they do have a condition that might require urgent medications that should be stored at school, please make sure the medications on hand are up to date and not expired. If there have been any changes recently or if you haven't submitted or updated this information for awhile, please contact your school health office and do so.


Safety First! For your healthy child, one of the most common causes of harm are accidents! Don't forget safety from door to door, including in vehicles (buckling up always and, if they are 8 years old or younger, sitting in their booster seat), walking to school (review crosswalk and pedestrian safety), and after school (all students should have identification with emergency contact information in their backpack and memorized too)!


Let's make this a safe and healthy school year!

~ Hawaii Pediatrics