Gateway Gazette

AHS Weekly Wellness News: Back to School Health Checklist

Getting your child ready for school involves more than just purchasing shiny new school supplies and trendy clothing. Ensuring your child’s immunizations are up to date, making appointments for routine screening tests and informing the school of any health issues your child may have, are also key to a healthy school-year start. Keep track of everything during this busy time with this handy back-to-school health checklist.

Immunization: Ensure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date for his or her age. This is especially important for kids entering kindergarten or elementary school. If your son or daughter is in Grade 5 and/or Grade 9, also watch for immunization consent forms coming home early in the school year. Remember: your signature on these forms is needed for your child to get his or her important grade 5 and/or grade 9 immunizations.

Vision screening: Have your child’s vision tested before he or she starts kindergarten (ideally by age three) and annually until age 18. As much as 80 per cent of learning is visual, so ensuring your kid(s) can see properly will help them reach their full learning potential. Eye exams for children up to 18 years of age are free of charge, covered by Alberta Health.

Hearing/speech screening: If you suspect your child may have a hearing or speech problem, check with your doctor for a referral to an audiologist and/or speech specialist. An undetected problem could interfere with your child’s learning.

Dental checkup: Regular dental checkups should begin by age three. If your child hasn’t had his or her teeth examined prior to starting school, now is a good time to start. Remember: good oral health is essential to good overall health! Regular checkups and cleanings help detect dental problems early, and ensure your child’s teeth stay healthy for life.

Emergency contacts: Make sure the school has up-to-date emergency numbers for each of your children, including contact information for parents, physicians, etc.

Health conditions: Ensure the school has up-to-date information about any health conditions, allergies or physical impairments your child may have. Also inform the school about any medications your child takes.

Backpack basics: Your child’s backpack should fit properly and shouldn’t be too heavy for him or her to carry, which means it should weight no more than 10 to 15 per cent of your child’s body weight. The backpack should have broad shoulder straps and a waist strap that keeps the bag firmly on the spine. Watch for warning signs that the bag may be too heavy, including sore shoulders or changes in posture. For more information visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/577.asp

Nutrition plan: Ensure your child has a healthy breakfast before heading to school in the mornings, and help him or her pack a nutritious lunch. Planning meals ahead of time and involving children in planning and preparation can make this task more manageable and fun.

This article is courtesy of Alberta Health Services

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