Published : Wednesday, August 7, 2019 | 4:47 AM
Before back-to-schoolers can be expected to perform well, their state of health, mental and physical, must be secured and Ying-Ying Goh, Director of Public Health and Health Officer for the City of Pasadena, has a few helpful tips.
As with most things that involve the developing young, the best type of care is consistent, familiar, a “primary medical home,” Goh called it.
“That means not just a doctor or a place that you go just to get your sports physical once a year because it’s required for school,” she explained, “but a provider, or team of providers, that knows your child, knows your family, and takes care of your child over the years.”
Goh is talking about a long-term medical relationship, someone who has known the student from before they reached adolescence. Someone who can ask about depression symptoms, about bullying, emotional health, and sexual health.
“And so as your child goes from infancy, through school age, and onto the teen years, that this medical home is where you have a team that is looking out for all aspects of your [child’s] health and wellbeing.”
Sounds ideal and, Goh concedes, not everybody enjoys such a medical home. “Sometimes [parents] just do piecemeal medical care because the school is requiring it,” she noted.
At home, parents can bring things back to basics by just checking in with their kids to see if they’re depressed, if they are being bullied, to see how things are going to school.
“Simply ask them if there is anything you can help with,” she recommended.
Mental health is often a stigmatized condition, and adults, parents and teachers need to interact with students affected by it.
“Mental health issues are not uncommon among young children and teens and every interaction with a caring adult is an opportunity to address these issues,” said Goh.
Preparation for school goes beyond new supplies and clothes.
“Parents can really prepare in the weeks before school starts to help create positive anticipation for school,” she explained. “They can talk about their kids seeing friends again, and other things they might look forward to and help to relieve anxiety that kids might feel about starting again.”
Also crucial is getting the young students back on their school-sleep-wake cycle as it can really impact what kind of start a student gets to the school year.
“One important aspect of that is really reducing the use of electronic devices and especially making sure kids aren’t having any screen time at least an hour before bedtime,” said Goh.
She suggested that parents ensure their children are current on vaccinations as both public and private schools require this prior to registration.
“They should do so a few weeks ahead of schedule so that they’re not at the first day of school and realizing they aren’t up-to-date on their shots,” said Goh.
Finally, there is safety in transit to look after. Parents should review safe traveling behavior with their kids.
“These include making sure that kids are waiting for the bus to approach before they step off the curb, and checking traffic before crossing the streets,” said Goh. “Make sure your car seat is properly adjusted because your child has grown. Make sure that they use seatbelts in the car, and, if they’re biking or scootering, that they are wearing helmets.”