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Start the school year on a healthy note

August 24, 2012
The Daily News

Shuffling your child back to school these days takes more than a new wardrobe and a shiny apple.

What about the dizzying array of immunizations? Hearing and vision tests? Special instructions for the school nurse? And tips for buying and loading a backpack that will help protect your child's back.

For a child going back to school is often a mix of emotions. Along with the excitement about getting a new teacher, seeing their friends and participating in sports most children are worried about not making friends, homework, and missing the fun of summer.

While children are worried about going back to school their parents and teachers worry about keeping them healthy, safe and free from infection while in school.

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department wants to help families and teachers take the right steps in ensuring a "happy and healthy" child.

It is important to protect children from common childhood illness. The healthier a child the more prepared they will be to learn.

That begins with making sure a child is up-to-date on all vaccinations, hearing and vision checks and are properly nourished. It's all part of giving any child a healthy start to the school year.

The following are health and safety tips for back to school from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that can help in preparing your child for that first day:

- Remind your child that he/she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy the first day of school.

- Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. He'll/She'll see old friends and meet new ones.

- Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus.

- If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with him/her) to school and pick up on the first day.

"Giving our children a healthy start to the school year is one of the best things we can do in preparing them for 'Back to School,'" said Joyce Ziegler, Community Health Services director. "Parents need to keep their child's immunizations up-to-date to safe guard against the diseases of the past, get their vision and hearing checked on a regular basis, and promote a healthy diet and encourage activity throughout the week."

Families along with schools and communities can work together to make the start of school not only exciting and fun, but ensure that each and every student is sent "Back to School" healthy and ready to learn.

"Public Health along with Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is always working to promote healthy lifestyles, because we all pay the price when Michigan is unhealthy," Ziegler said.

For information about infectious disease prevention and services, visit or call your local health department.



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