First Day of School Health Checklist: What every parent should know

Experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital have put together a Healthy Child Checklist to ensure that children - and parents - are prepared for the first day of school.


Backpacks are full of fresh pencils and paper and new shoes are waiting by the door, but just because the supplies are ready for a new school year doesn’t mean that children are. Experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital have put together a Healthy Child Checklist to ensure that children - and parents - are prepared for the first day of school.

As the countdown to the first day of school begins, health and safety questions on a variety of issues surface - from vaccinations to nutrition to nerves. As children get ready to start waking up earlier and deal with anxiety about going to school, parents worry about issues like safety, illness and whether or not their child’s medication will be dispensed properly at school.

“Back to school is understandably an anxious time for parents and children alike,” says pediatrician Dr. Ben Danielson at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle. “By taking a few easy steps, parents can remove the stress associated with back-to-school and rest assured that their children are well prepared for a healthy and productive year ahead.”

To help ease this transition, pediatric health experts at Seattle Children’s Hospital have put together a first day of school health checklist to help parents keep kids healthy and safe throughout the school year:

  • Make sure your child’s immunizations are current.
  • Start getting your child to bed at a set time a week or two before school starts.
  • 6 to 9 year-olds need 10 hours, preteens need 9 hours, and teens need about 8 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep each night.
  • Stock up on healthy snacks and lunch fixings.
  • Low-fat dressing for dipping veggies, dried fruit, nuts, low-fat yogurt, pretzels, low-fat cheese, cut veggies and fruit that is all ready to grab-and-go. Don’t forget to buy a water bottle so your child can easily drink water and stay hydrated during the day.
  • Find out if your child will have PE during the day and how much time is spent at recess.
  • Children need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, so provide time and space for them to be active after school to get a total of at least 60 minutes.
  • Figure out your child’s transportation plan and before- and after-school care, if needed.
  • If your child is over 10 and will walk or bike to school, identify a safe route and make sure they know how to walk or bike safely. If biking, make sure they have a properly-fitted bike helmet.
  • Talk to your child about what will be expected and any concerns they may have. Let them ask questions anytime.
  • Develop ground rules for your child to follow if he or she is about 11 or older and will be spending time alone at home after school.
  • Think about if friends are allowed over, cooking rules, TV and computer rules, answering the door and phone, etc. Give your child a chance to practice being home alone before the school year starts.
  • Find out the school’s rules about medicine for kids old enough to handle monitoring and treatment at school.
  • If your child is too young to self-administer, find out who handles medicines at the school and ensure they are familiar with your child’s needs.
  • Learn about emergency plans at your child’s school.
  • Work on a plan for how to deal with illness during the school year - sick children should stay home to prevent the spread of illness to others.
  • Arrange your calendar so you can spend extra time with your child the first week of school; transitions can be hard and just being together in the evenings can help.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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