The summer holidays are nearly over and kids are preparing to head back to school.
For kids starting grade one or commencing a new school, this time of year can be a little nerve-wracking. Fortunately, there are simple steps that parents can undertake to ensure their kids are feeling healthy and confident as school resumes.
“No matter their age, ensuring your child is up-to-date with vaccinations is the best way of preventing disease,” says Dr Tony Tanious, from House Call Doctor. “In some states, vaccines are necessary to enrol your child in school or childcare.”
“Vaccines stimulate the body’s natural immune response, by imitating an infection caused by virus or bacteria,” says Dr Tony. “This allows the body to recognise similar infections in future, and trigger that same immune response.”
Australia’s national immunisation schedule can be found online. This schedule outlines the vaccines that are necessary for your child from birth, right through to adulthood. It also specifies which immunisations are administered in schools, including chickenpox, whooping cough and recently, the HPV vaccine.
If you receive a Family Tax Benefit, your child may require a health check before commencing school. This check-up appointment is especially designed to give children a ‘healthy start’ to early education.
“A health check will assess your child’s physical health,” explains Dr Tony. “Their height, weight, hearing, sight and general wellbeing is taken into consideration, to ensure they are ready to learn.”
The specific requirements for a health check vary from state to state, with children often needing appointments between the ages of 3 –5 years. Further details can be obtained from the Department of Human Services online.
“It’s normal to feel nervous in new situations, but in extreme cases anxiety can cause real physical symptoms such as headaches or nausea,” says Dr Tony. “For this reason, it’s helpful to introduce strategies that can overcome anxiety.”
Allowing your child to feel ‘in control’ of their school experience will reduce any last-minute nerves. Helping them compile a list of important information, such as their classroom number, teacher’s names and lunchtimes will prepare your child for the school day ahead.
As the term progresses, getting your child to create a wall planner which depicts their assignment due dates and extracurricular activities will also make school a less overwhelming experience.
School mornings tend to be manic in any household, but ensuring your child has a balanced breakfast is key to their wellbeing and development at school. Oats with yoghurt, omelettes with vegetables, or toast with a lean meat and cheese topping are all great on-the-go breakfast ideas.
Packing a balanced lunch will also encourage your child to make healthy choices at playtime. The ideal lunchbox contains a balance of protein (lean meats or eggs,) calcium (cheese or yoghurt,) carbohydrate (breads, pitas or crackers,) fruits and vegetables (for a variety of nutrients.)
“Many schools won’t allow parents to provide their kids with nuts or peanut butter at lunchtime, as this could be an allergy risk for other children,” says Dr Tony. Specific allergy guidelines can be acquired from your child’s school or childcare.
Every child is unique, and some will need additional health resources when they enter school or childcare. Schools should be made aware if your child has asthma, diabetes or any food allergies.
“First-aid officers can be equipped with specific medications your child may need throughout the term,” says Dr Tony. “Many schools also have allergy protocols to prevent anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening if managed improperly.”
Despite your best planning though, children will fall ill. Whenever kids are together, there is a higher risk of infection, especially in younger children who haven’t developed personal hygiene practices.
If your child falls ill after-hours, a house call doctor can be useful in diagnosing urgent conditions they may have contracted from school. A consultation with a practitioner such as Dr Tony is 100% bulk-billed, for all families covered by Medicare.
Are your children all ready to get back to School? Share with us below.