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Before kids go back to school, it’s a good plan to think “back to the doctor,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your child may need a yearly exam, which helps track progress and growth over time to spot emerging problems. That visit is also a way to stay up to date with immunizations.
“Getting your children and teens ready to go back to school is the perfect time to make sure they are up-to-date with their immunizations. Vaccination protects students from diseases and keeps them healthy,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And don’t forget other routine health appointments. Eye exams and dental visits also help keep kids healthy.
Eye ExamsHow long has it been since your child had a vision screening? Vision problems often have no obvious early signs. The American Optometric Association suggests that children without eye issues have a basic vision screening before first grade and then each year after that.
Children at high risk may need and more comprehensive eye exam. And they may need earlier and more frequent screening. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says children should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam if they:
Keep Eyes SafeIf children wear glasses, make sure they have eyewear made with shatterproof plastic. Stay on the lookout for any hazards where they play. And insist on proper protective gear during sports activities.
Computers, tablets and mobile phones are used by children starting at young ages. That can cause eye problems. Limit use of digital screens. Make sure kids keep screens at least 18 to 24 inches from their eyes. Don’t let them use the devices for long periods of time. And have your child follow the 20-20-20 rule. That means look up from the screen every 20 minutes. Then look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
It’s always a good time to build healthy habits to keep children’s teeth strong. Try these tips to keep teeth cavity free:
This is also a good time to talk to your kids about how they should handle safety related situations. Talk about getting to school safely. Ask them how they might feel or react if they were the target of bullying. Make sure they know how to identify the basic signs of a concussion. Discuss these and other safety situations before kids go back to school so they can be prepared.
Originally published 6/28/2021; Reviewed 2022
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