With back-to-school just around the corner, primary care provider Dr. Jinat Parveen shares some advice for helping school-aged kids put their healthiest and best foot forward for the first day, and following weeks of the new school year.
What is the #1 thing that you would advise children to do to be ready for the new school year?
Dr. Jinat Parveen: Establish a healthy sleep routine so they get enough sleep.
Many students over the summer shift their sleeping habits to staying up late and sleeping in. This can create a great deal of stress during the first few weeks of school as they get re-acclimated to an appropriate sleep schedule.
Sleep deprivation or an inconsistent sleep schedule has been shown to contribute to poor concentration, behavioral difficulties and decreased problem-solving abilities. It can also affect a child’s physical health, putting them at higher risk for becoming overweight or developing diabetes.
Let’s say you have a child who’s been sleeping in until noon over the summer. You can’t just snap to sleep at 10 p.m. even if you wanted to. What’s the best way to dial it back so the later-to-bed pattern becomes an earlier-to-bed pattern without them being miserable.
Dr. Parveen: About two weeks before school starts, work with your child to return to a regular sleep schedule by setting an incrementally earlier bedtime and wake-up time each day.
Once school starts, stick to this schedule - don’t use the weekend to “catch up on sleep.” You should still use the same bedtime on the weekends to keep the schedule going.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine so your child can unwind. Limit TV, video games and other electronic distractions before bedtime, as well as large meals and caffeine.
How much sleep should children get?
Dr. Parveen: The National Sleep Foundation recommends most school-aged children (ages 6 -13) get about 9 to 11 hours of solid sleep per night, and 8 to 10 for high school students.
What about grown-ups?
Dr. Parveen: It’s recommended that adults get between 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.
For teenagers especially, how do we get across the message that they need more sleep…along with the impact of not getting enough sleep?
Dr. Parveen: Communication is very important. Get them to understand they need relaxation before going to sleep, and help them see the change when they start getting enough sleep.
Getting a back to school physical is important. Many children are getting it just for clearance to play sports. In general, why is a physical good to get ready for school?
Dr. Parveen: Seeing a pediatrician for a yearly physical exam is an important part of a child’s health care, and back-to-school time might be the most convenient for putting this on the schedule, especially since it’s a popular time to register for sports teams.
At a physical exam, you can expect your pediatrician to make sure all your child’s vaccinations are up to date; measure vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate and temperature; and record height and weight on a growth chart, among other important health benchmarks.
Yearly check-ups are also a good time for parents to ask questions about any emotional, developmental or social concerns, such as the appropriate amount of screen time, sleep or how to ensure picky eaters receive all the necessary nutrients.
Even if your child is in good health, it’s important to bring them to the pediatrician on a regular basis to form a long-term medical history, allowing the provider to track development over time and record any past illnesses or health conditions.
See Dr. Jinat Parveen's full interview on KING5's New Day Northwest.
EvergreenHealth Primary Care can take care of back-to-school physicals and make sure your student has all of the required forms signed and ready for school athletics.