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Parental prep 101

PacMed provider gives uncommon tips on best back-to-school health practices

Attention to health and wellness is critical in preparing for the new school year. Photo credit: Pragyan Bezbaruah,

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As summer begins to wind down, back-to-school preparations become paramount in ensuring the school year starts off on the best foot possible for both parents and youth. Amidst the hustle to collect colored pencils and spiral notebooks, it's imperative that the to-do list includes items dedicated to health and wellness. Fortunately, Pacific Medical Centers'Family Medicine Physician Yoon Park, MD, is on the scene to discuss these ‘to-dos' in greater detail, making the first day back to school a great day for all.

Are there any health screenings and/or immunizations parents should ensure their children receive prior to returning to school?

Please review the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended guidelines for immunization schedules. We recommend to make an appointment with your primary care doctor to review these recommended health screenings, and also review immunization status and timelines. In brief, the recommendation for children ages 4 to 16 is as follows: 4-5 years old: MMR/ varicella/ Dtap / IPV (polio); 11 years old: Tdap, MCV (meningococcal), HPV; 12 years old: HPV; 16 years old: MCV, (Men B: meningococcal B).

As kids get older, it's important to also have screenings to monitor growth and development. If they're sexually active, STD testing and sex counseling may be necessary. This is a great time to discuss contraception options if needed. 

What are the primary health risks and concerns parents of school-age children need to be aware of?

It's important for parents to be aware of the signs of obesity and/or eating disorders, as it relates to poor diet or Bulimia. Additionally, parents should be monitoring vision, as it relates to too much screen time.

How can military parents with busy schedules enforce healthy lifestyle choices for their kids?

With busy schedules, incorporating healthy choices can be difficult. If you incorporate your children into your lifestyle choices, they may follow your lead. For example, schedule regular exercise time for the family and pack a lunch with healthy options for everyone.

Do you have any suggestions on how to ease the summer-to-school-year transition for parents and youth?

Transitioning from summer to fall for back-to-school is easier with time management. Assist your littles with setting routine sleep times during school nights. Limit their screen time and access to TV and video games until assignments and school work are done. Another suggestion for parents and their kids is to make friends at school (for parents, make friends with other parents of children in the classroom.)

Is there anything else you would like readers to know about parental back-to-school preparations?

Yes, be sure to always discuss "safety first" with your children. They need to know the importance of traffic safety, especially as it relates to getting to school. Ensure that they know their full name and information of an emergency contact. Additionally, be sure to discuss bullies at school and what they should do to report them.

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