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Staying Healthy During Back-to-School

Teens at schoolIt’s that time of year again! Back-to-school time can be a rush to get school supplies and new clothes, but there’s more to a successful school year. Now is the time to refresh good school-related habits, and­­­ ease any anxiety kids might have about a new class, schedule or school. Here are five tips for putting your healthiest foot forward this school year.

Manage Stress

Back-to-school season is stressful for the whole family, but too much stress can lead to a variety of health issues. Help manage stress by talking to your children about anything that's bothering them, and take care not to overload anyone's schedule, including your own. Try to schedule time to relax, play and spend time together, outside of school and extra-curricular activities.

Wash your hands

Your workplace and child’s school are full of threatening germs. By teaching your kids about thorough hand-washing techniques, your entire family will cut down on sick days. Stock up on easy-to-carry bottles of hand sanitizer to help your family fight germs when soap and water are not easily accessible.

Update vaccinations

If you haven’t scheduled your child’s school physical and vaccinations, do so. Keeping up with your child’s vaccinations is not only important for his/her health, but Iowa Immunization Law also mandates that all school children have a completed immunization record on file before beginning school.

Annual physicals are a great way to make sure your child is healthy and ready for the new school year. Visiting the same pediatrician or primary care provider each year helps kids feel more comfortable and ensures that they connect with and trust their doctor. Learn more about school physicals.

Get enough sleep

Back to school often means back to earlier bedtimes for many kids. Children 7- to 16-years-old need 8-12 hours of sleep per night on average. Not meeting the minimum hours of sleep per night may cause children to have difficulty staying awake or paying attention in school, which could result in lower grades. Convincing your child to go to bed earlier can be difficult, so some early evening exercise could be dually beneficial. For example, taking a walk as a family or playing outside for 30 to 60 minutes would benefit your child by getting them active and would tire them out more for bed. However, avoid exercise too close to bed as this could have the reverse effect as well.

Make healthy food choices

One of the most difficult parts about the school year is ensuring that your child makes healthy choices at school. Start by making sure your child gets a hearty breakfast full of protein, whole grains and vitamins to prepare for the day and keep him or her from getting hungry before lunch. Teach your child the benefits of healthy eating and explore ways to serve fruits and veggies in a way that appeals to your child.

By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can reduce the risk of illness in your home and have a more enjoyable, healthier school year! To find a Mercy pediatrician or primary care provider, call our Find-A-Doc line at (319) 369-4444.

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