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Guest Opinion: Tips for a successful start to school year

  • (The Press Democrat)

Whether your child is entering school for the first time or about to begin his or her senior year, now is the perfect time to prepare your child for the upcoming school year.

You can help ensure that the year ahead is healthy and productive for your young student by following these ABCs:

• A list of immunizations.

The proper immunizations can protect your child from common childhood diseases and other contagious illnesses throughout the school year.

Most school-aged children receive several required vaccinations at ages 4 or 5, just before entering kindergarten. Students entering seventh-grade also must have the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) booster shot before entering school. A Tdap vaccination protects against whooping cough, a highly-contagious bacterial disease.

Other immunizations can protect against chicken pox, Hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). A flu vaccine — available starting in mid to late October — also can help your child avoid the flu, which is highly contagious, and can help ward off outbreaks at schools.

• Begin to get plenty of rest

This also is a good time to get your child on a regular bedtime schedule. Children need at least eight to 10 hours a sleep a night. Some may have a hard time adjusting to the early morning start of school, so it’s a good idea to get them used to waking up early now. Encourage children to set an alarm so they are waking up at the same time every day. Having a restful night’s sleep will lead to a more focused student.

• Cut out the junk food

A healthy diet — with plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day — will help children stay fit and keep them energized.

Starting the day with a healthy breakfast can reduce the urge to snack on less nutritious items such as chips and cookies.

Children also need a healthy lunch to sustain them throughout the school day. When packing a school lunch for your child, avoid foods that are high in sugar. Pack a bottle of water rather than juice or soda. Make sandwiches using whole-grain breads. Opt for low or non-fat dairy products.

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