Healthy Back-to-School Habits: Preparing for a Successful School Year


By Matthew Brady, Family Medicine Physician

As the summer break comes to an end, there’s a lot to accomplish in preparation for the new school year. The two most important things to do may seem fairly routine, but that doesn’t make them any less of a priority: schedule annual physicals for you and your family and get up to date on immunizations. Routine wellness checks are essential to your family’s ongoing health and are an integral part of children’s healthcare. In fact, visiting a provider for regular preventive care is one of the best ways to help identify and treat health issues before they become serious.

This includes visiting your dermatologist annually to check for any skin health issues, including any suspicious or unusual spots that could be cancerous, as well as any other skin health problems that you may think are harmless. After a long, hot summer, there’s no better time to ensure you’re doing your part to help your skin stay healthy.

When scheduling check-ups, don’t overlook vision screenings and mental health screenings, including depression screenings for 12 years and up. Eye health and mental health are both vital components of overall health for both children and adults.

Annual physical exams also allow your child’s pediatrician to confirm their vaccinations are up-to-date and answer any questions you may have about your child’s health. Staying up to date on vaccinations and health concerns is not just vital for children, though. Vaccines for adults are recommended based on several factors, so you should ask your primary care provider which vaccines you may need. Be sure to ask your family’s provider about vaccines for illnesses like flu, meningococcus and human papillomavirus (HPV) and others, and bring up any health-related issues you may be currently experiencing personally as well.

Here are a few more tips you can use to get your family ready for a healthy and successful school term.

Eat well and stay active. Healthy students are better learners. That’s why it’s crucial for children to eat nutritious meals and maintain a healthy weight. In addition to getting the nutrients their bodies need, experts recommend children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day to help reduce stress and increase focus.

Make sleep a priority. A lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health issues for both students and parents, including memory problems, difficulty focusing, weakening of the immune system, common heart problems, depression and even obesity. Healthy sleep hygiene can contribute to better weight management, improved mood and increased productivity.

Regularly wash your hands and prevent the spread of germs. It’s well-known that the school year can introduce an assortment of colds, stomach bugs and other transmittable illnesses. One of the most effective ways to defend against germs is hand washing, so always wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Don’t smoke. E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product among youth in the U.S. The nicotine found in these popular smoking devices, like nicotine found in other tobacco products, can harm the developing adolescent brain, specifically areas of the brain that are responsible for learning, memory and attention.

To reach their full potential in the classroom, students need to be as healthy as possible – both physically and mentally. By following simple tips like those outlined above, you can better prepare your family for the months ahead and make this school year one for the books.

If your family needs a primary care provider or pediatrician, Castleview Hospital can help. Visit the Find a Doctor tab at to get connected with the right care for your family.

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