Are your kids ready to go back to school? Get them off to a good start by helping them stay safe and healthy on campus and in the classroom with these tips.
Set Emergency Procedures
Familiarize your family with the school’s emergency procedures, and provide current contact information for parents and other relatives. Decide on a meeting point near the school where you can meet your child in case of emergency if you cannot connect by telephone. If your child is old enough to use a cell phone, consider providing one that is reserved for urgent situations.
Update Medical Information
Let the school know of any medications your child takes both at home and at school, as well as any medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, allergies or psychological issues. Provide contact information for your pediatrician along with medical emergency instructions.
Review Safety Rules
Remind children not to talk to strangers and never to get into a stranger’s car, no matter what the circumstances. Choose a “code word” that only you, your children and trusted friends and family members know in case someone else has to pick them up, and instruct your children never to trust anyone who doesn’t know the code word. Instruct kids to find a trusted adult immediately if they don’t feel safe.
Make Helmets a Must
Does your child ride a bike to school? Helmet use can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. Choose a helmet that meets federal safety standards and fits correctly. According to the National Safety Council, a helmet should fit low and snug across the forehead. If you look up and can’t see the helmet, it is too far back.
Avoid Backpack Overload
A backpack that is too heavy or worn incorrectly can strain a child’s neck or back. Backpacks should be lightweight with well-padded shoulder straps, a padded back and a waist strap. Pull both straps tightly enough so that the pack fits snugly against the back but doesn’t pull on the shoulders. Distribute the weight of items within the pack evenly on both sides, and keep it light. Consider a rolling backpack if allowed by the school.
Stand Up to Bullying
Bullying is a serious problem, yet many victims don’t speak up for fear or ridicule or retaliation. If you suspect your child is a victim of bullying, encourage him or her to tell you what is going on. Ask questions and offer support and comfort. Controlling your own emotions can make it easier for your child to open up to you about what he or she needs to feel safe. Talk to teachers and administrators about the situation.
Set Reasonable Schedules
Sports and extra-curricular activities help kids learn skills, socialize, and have fun, but too much of a good thing can become stressful and ultimately negate the benefits. Let kids choose what they want to participate in and change or drop activities that aren’t enjoyable or become too demanding. Allow for unscheduled time to rest and relax at home with the family.
“Health Watch” is brought to you by the physicians and staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. For more information or for physician referral, call 1-800-SCRIPPS or visit www.scripps.org.