As summer break winds down for many Kentucky students, parents and caregivers are preparing to get school supplies together, health forms filled out, after-school care figured out, and more for the new school year.

Whether your little one is off to kindergarten or senior year, below are helpful tips your family can utilize to ensure your child’s health will be in good shape as they head back to school and settle into their school routine.

  • Take your child in for their annual wellness exam. Even if you think that your child is perfectly healthy, it is always better to be proactive than reactive.
  • If your child is playing a sport, get their sports physical early. This physical includes criteria different from a standard, non-sports physical and will help confirm that your child can safely play on a sports team. Many school-sponsored sports teams require having these physicals on record for safety, so try doing it sooner rather than later.
  • Double check that your child is up to date on their immunizations. Making sure that your Kentucky Certification of Immunization is up to date is important for keeping your child and their classmates safe from preventable diseases. You can double check what vaccinations are required for your grade level by checking the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services website.
  • Schedule routine dental and vision exams to ensure early detection and treatment of any issues and that your child is ready to learn as they head back to the classroom. In Kentucky, student health screenings/exams are mandated by law. To find out if your child is required a dental, vision, or other health screening/exams before school begins, click here.
  • Pick out a backpack that won’t strain your child’s back. A padded backpack with wide shoulder straps will help alleviate undue strain on their back. Be sure to go through it with your child weekly as the school year goes on to make sure unneeded materials are removed, as backpacks should never weigh more than 10 to 20% of your child’s body weight.
  • Practice your morning trip to school ahead of time. Walking and biking to school are great methods of transportation that help the environment and encourage physical activity, if they can be done safely. Check to see if there are other children in the neighborhood that they can walk or bike with your child — they’ll make a new friend and get some exercise before the school day even starts! If they’re riding a bus or in a car, make sure to go over safety measures like wearing a seatbelt and staying seated until the vehicle is at a full stop.
  • Talk to your child about how they are feeling about the start of a new year. New beginnings can make anyone nervous, especially if your child is starting at a new school, so be sure to watch your child’s moods or behaviors for noticeable change. Your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health—if they feel anxious about the school year, listen to their concerns.
  • Start a sleep routine. Getting enough sleep is imperative for academic success. Try to start adhering to a bedtime now. Limit electronic device usage before bed and engage in calming activities like reading a story, taking a bath, or tucking them in. Going to school without enough sleep makes it harder to focus on learning during the day.

The next few weeks will be busy as you and your child prepare to take on another school year, but your child’s health is a priority. Start working on routine check-ups and physicals now to alleviate the stress that comes with getting back into the swing of the academic school year. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t wait until the first day of classes—schools are open now to address any needs you and your child may have.

Your child, like many, may be nervous to start the year, but you can rest easier knowing that their health has been tended to. Have a great start to the new school year!