Ensure your kids stay healthy for the entire family to have a happy school year.  Their academic performance, as well as their relationships with other students and teachers, can all be affected by their health.   

Did you know that 17% of the youth in the United States are obese? That is two out of every 19 children. 40% of the total daily calories are empty from added sugars and solid fats. If you have a picky eater, continue introducing new foods into their diet. As a parent, be a good role model by eating a healthy diet yourself, and NEVER use food as a reward for your child. 

Make sleep a priority. Monitor their time on digital devices; children tend to lose sleep due to their overuse of electronics. You should know the games your child is playing on their electronic devices. Have a discussion with your child about social media platforms, including the benefits and the problems that can arise from using these platforms. 

Sleep is as equally important as diet and exercise. Set a good example as a parent of not losing sleep due to your overuse of electronics. Healthy children need 8-10 hours of sleep each night to rejuvenate and be ready for the day.  Help your child by establishing a sleep ritual by putting away electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Avoid exercise, warm baths, or hot showers shortly before bedtime. Encourage them to read or be read to right before sleep. Sometimes a light snack before bed while ensuring to stay away from caffeine can be beneficial. 

Stay up to date on checkups and immunizations. Schedule a back-to-school physical if your child has not had a well-check in the last year. If they are playing a sport, include a pre-participation sports exam. Have your pediatrician assist with the needed school forms, such as in the case of a medical emergency. All immunizations are important. People vaccinated against COVID and influenza are less likely to have a severe illness or be hospitalized if they get sick with one or both illnesses.

Have their eyes checked annually. Issues with vision can be detected by observing your child squinting, tilting the head, and holding their electronic devices too close.  

Be a willing participant in your child’s education. Speak with their teachers, and let them know your child’s likes and dislikes, strengths, what they tend to struggle with, their preferred learning styles, and any other issues they may be dealing with that could affect their learning and relationship development.  

Be aware of the risks your child may be facing, such as bullying or racism. The early signs are a change in your child’s behavior, issues with their academic progress, newly developed anxiety, depression, or self-harm. Let your child know it’s OK to talk about how they are feeling and make it safe to discuss the tough issues with you. Do not judge, lecture, or punish them when speaking to you about touchy subjects. Really listen to what your child is saying and ensure you are providing a judge-free zone. Emphasize the value of being kind and treating others with respect. Simple acts of kindness toward others make a big difference and can reduce their stress. This can be an opportunity to discuss effective conflict resolution.

Parents need to teach their children proper handwashing to decrease germs and illnesses being passed to others. At home and at school, children should wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. A new start to the school year can mean lots of changes, new routines, and meeting new people. Reducing the likelihood of illness for your child means reducing the likelihood of illness for yourself as well.

Giving your child a good start will also give you the stability you need for your job performance, because it means you will be at work more and not calling off due to sick children or your own illness. Spending quality time with your family can reduce stress and anxiety for any or all members of the family. When one part of the family is stressed over an issue such as bullying, it can affect the entire family, making it more difficult to function in your daily life.  Remember that children are resilient. They can overcome many challenges with the help of trusted adults. 

Family is so important because of all the support and love it provides. Inviting friends and family to spend that quality time together is fun. Put down the devices, and gather to create fun and meaningful memories. Making that time to connect with family can require planning and a bit of money, but the investment is well worth the outcome of having healthy individuals and strong family bonds. Your success in your career depends on the family strength you have supporting you. 


CDC: Nine Health Hacks for Back-to-School Success


Highland Springs Clinic:  The Top Ten Benefits of Spending Time with Family


Children’s Health: Preventing Back-to-School Sickness


Healthy Children: 5 Ways to Help Your Kids Have a Healthy School Year


Johns Hopkins Medicine: Back-to-School Health Tips for Parents Infographic