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Don’t forget to schedule your child’s well care visit — the best way to prevent illness, track growth and development and discuss any concerns as a team. Call 216-778-2222 to schedule an appointment, or find a pediatric provider near you.

Give Your Student a Healthy Start

Another summer has flown by, and the kids are back in school. This year, reduce sick days and other health problems with the following tips from MetroHealth pediatrician Laura Shefner, MD. “A little preparation can go a long way toward ensuring a healthy academic year,” she says.

  1. Prep Some Protein for Breakfast and Pack a Healthy Snack

Skipping breakfast can leave kids with low energy for the first half of their school day, affecting their academic performance. “Children don’t need to have an elaborate hot breakfast, but they do need some protein.”

  • Keep the meal simple. Try offering your kids some eggs, a peanut butter sandwich or a yogurt smoothie.
  • Prep breakfast the night before or at the beginning of the week so kids can pull it out of the refrigerator or reheat it in the microwave.
  • Opt for milk or water and limit sugary fruit juices.
  • For a protein-packed lunch, include snacks like string cheese, celery with nut or seed butter, carrots with hummus, pumpkin seeds, yogurt or a granola bar that’s high in protein. Download more healthy snack ideas.
  1. Help Your Child Avoid Germs

The first few years of school seem to be the worst for kids as far as catching colds and the flu, says Dr. Shefner. Remember to:

  • Schedule your child to get a flu shot. Vaccinations are often available before the end of October.
  • Make sure children are up-to-date on other vaccines. Kindergarten, seventh grade and 12th grade are particularly important years on the vaccine schedule.
  • Teach your kids to wash hands frequently, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
  • Have kids cover their mouths with the inside bend of their arm when they sneeze or cough.
  • Keep kids at home if they are sick.
  1. Find Balance

You may find your child’s schedule rapidly filling with homework and extracurricular activities. To keep your daily routines manageable:

  • Find time for free play. Children need time to play to develop important social, physical and emotional skills. It also sparks their creativity.
  • Create a designated time and place for homework. Encourage your child to tackle big projects in chunks rather than all at once.
  • Hold family dinners, where kids can open up about their challenges.
  • If you and your kids are rushing out the door every morning, set your alarms 15 to 30 minutes earlier to give you extra time to eat breakfast, pack lunches or finish up other daily tasks.
  1. Encourage Exercise and Limit Screen Time
  • Ideally kids need 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day. “This can include walking the dog, playing tag, riding a bike or getting out in the snow as winter sets in,” says Dr. Shefner.
  • Limiting screen time can also help kids stay active.
  1. Be Smart About Backpacks

With the number of books and amount of school supplies kids need to carry in their backpacks, back strains are a risk. Be sure to:

  • Choose a pack with padded straps and back support.
  • “Ask your child to wear both straps,” says Dr. Shefner. Hanging the pack off one shoulder creates uneven pressure on the back.
  • Adjust the straps as your child grows or transitions to puffy winter coats. The top of the bag should sit near the shoulder blades, while the bottom of the straps should hang at the waist.

Don’t overpack. Opt for lighter drink bottles and lunch boxes or keep an extra set of schoolbooks at home.


Laura Shefner, MD
Beachwood Health Center
Parma Medical Offices and Ambulatory Surgery Center