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Getting Your School-age Child Back on Track after Vacation

If your child has uttered these words after vacation, you're not alone. Returning to the rigorous pace of school life after a break from school can be challenging for children - and parents.

It's time to resume homework, carpools, errands, rehearsals and sports practice. Chief of Pediatrics at Kelsey-Seybold, Dr. Richard Byrd offers some advice on how school-age children and families can stay healthy during the second half of the school year.

Getting back into the swing of things

"Family routines like early bedtimes and nightly dinners at home tend to be disrupted during vacation, which in turn may lead to unhealthy behaviors," says Dr. Byrd.

Keep the weather in mind. As your child heads out into colder temperatures, keep them covered from head to toe. If it's hot outside, make sure they're comfortable.

"Make sure your child is dressed appropriately," Dr. Byrd says.  If your child walks to and from school, have a back-up plan ready to get them to and from school if the weather suddenly becomes unfavorable," Dr. Byrd says. "If they ride the school bus, don't forget that waiting for the bus exposes them to the elements. You may need to sit with them in your car or stay at the bus stop if weather conditions turn for the worse."

Start the day with a healthy breakfast

It's no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It can give your child the boost he needs for a productive school day. If time is an issue, have your child eat a healthy breakfast at school. Make sure it doesn't include sweets such as glazed donuts or pastries, but rather breakfast choices like wheat toast, 2% milk and eggs.

A little support can go a long way

Dr. Byrd adds that it's never too late to encourage your school-age child through your own positive attitude that you believe in their ability to succeed as they finish out the rest of the school year.

"A positive outlook at your child's school experience can help shape the rest of the academic year," Dr. Byrd says. "Encourage your child daily and make plans to carry over this supportive attitude into their next break from school."

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you help guide your child through the school year:

  • Make sure your child gets a good night's rest before the school day. Sleep cycles often need to be adjusted back to earlier bedtimes once the holidays are over. A well-rested child is better able to learn and focus on class work and extracurricular activities.
  • Although a hot, nutritious lunch is a good option, you can also pack a healthy, well-balanced lunch for your child. Take your child grocery shopping for lunch kit items to teach him how to make good choices for meals away from home.
  • For children involved in sports, pay a visit to your child's pediatrician before participation, especially if it has been more than a year since the last physical. All school-based sports programs require annual medical checkups.
  • While your child is in the doctor's office, check to see if your child's vaccinations are up to date.
  • If you're running low, stock up on prescription medications your child takes regularly and would need to have on hand in the nurse's office. Check with your school nurse about regulations regarding medications or any other specific type of care that your child requires during school hours.
  • Keep your child active at home with physical activities. Limit video game playing and encourage your child to move. Do something together. Chores, such as leaf raking, can be followed by the promise of a trip to the park or playground.
  • Get your child vaccinated for flu as soon as possible.
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Richard Byrd, MD, FAAP

​I encourage patients and their families to be knowledgeable about their health and options for care. I consider it a privilege to be a family’s pediatrician.