Make Sure Kids are Ready to Return

Note: the following item was provided by Atrium Health Floyd for publication. Tifani Kinard, Vice President of Rural Health, penned this latest Live Well Polk column. – KtE

The first day of school is just around the corner. Most school systems in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama start classes sometime in the first two weeks of August.

For children and teenagers that first day the alarm clock goes off can be a shock, but there are things you can do to get ready now.

Two important tests

They may not seem like a big deal in a world where COVID-19 has taken up so many of the headlines, but there two tests parents should make sure their kids take before they enter school: vision and hearing tests.

⦁ More than one in 20 preschoolers has a vision problem that can lead to vision loss if not treated.
⦁ One in four school-aged children have some type of vision problem.
⦁ Without proper screening, vision problems may not be noticed.
⦁ Poor vision can definitely impact how well your child does in school.

It is recommended that children 5 years and older have an annual visual screening by their doctor and eye examinations as necessary.

Specific tests and charts may be used to measure both near and distant vision. For preschoolers, these charts may consist of pictures or stories instead of letters of the alphabet.

Also, nearly one out of five children ages 12 to 19 may have a hearing problem. Listening to loud music with headphones can gradually affect hearing. But using a lawn mower, playing in band at school or talking on a cell phone could damage hearing, too.

A hearing screening for a child 3 years and older involves a test that uses a machine that produces sounds at different volumes and pitches in your child’s ears. The child usually wears some type of earphones. The child is simply asked to respond in some way when the tone is heard in the earphone.

Make sure you get enough sleep

Try to resume normal bedtime schedules a few weeks before school begins. Kids who might be starting school for the first time are likely going to be exhausted during the first days of school. It’s a big change. Parent can help by making sure they get enough sleep. And during the first few weeks they might want to take a nap after they get home from school. That can be a normal reaction for kids experiencing a new daily routine.

Teenagers will likely need to change some habits as well. The summer might have been a time for working late and staying up later. Teens should really be in bed by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. That gives them the opportunity to possibly get eight hours of sleep and get breakfast before the bus comes.

In bed by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. means in bed with the intention of going to sleep, not watching TV, working on the computer of texting on the cellphone. Now is a good time to start limiting screen time for TVs, cellphones and computers.

Cut down on screen time

The following tips can help reduce screen time in your home:

⦁ Limit all types of screen time to no more than 2 hours a day.
⦁ Children with TVs in their rooms keep their eyes on the screen an average of 1.5 hours more a day than those who don’t. Take the TV out of your child’s bedroom.
⦁ Try not to use TV or other technology as a reward or punishment. It can inflate its importance.
⦁ As an alternate reward for your child, try a trip to the park, a festival, playground, or a visit to a relative’s or friend’s house instead.
⦁ Involve your child in non-screen-related activities, such as sports or a hobby.
⦁ Encourage play and exercise for your child. Plan other fun activities for your child, so he or she has choices instead of using technology.
⦁ Do not allow TV watching or using tablets during mealtimes or right before bed.

Immunizations are another thing parents need to check on if their child is entering school for the first time.

Immunizations protect children from a variety of diseases including tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps and chickenpox. Because vaccines are available, many of these diseases are less common than they once were, but despite being rare, they still exist, and vaccination is recommended.

Children should receive the following vaccines between birth and six years of age:

⦁ Polio
⦁ Hepatitis A
⦁ Hepatitis B
⦁ Rotavirus
⦁ Influenza
⦁ Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP)
⦁ Haemophilus influenza B (Hib)
⦁ Pneumococcal
⦁ Chickenpox (Varicella)
⦁ Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

Check with your pediatrician to make sure your child’s shots are up to date.

About Atrium Health Floyd

Since 1942, Floyd, now Atrium Health Floyd, has worked to provide affordable, accessible care in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Today, Atrium Health Floyd is a leading medical provider and economic force. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. At the hub of these services is Floyd Medical Center, a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,400 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia; Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia, as well as Floyd Behavioral Health Center, a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility, also in Rome; and a primary care and urgent care network with locations throughout the service area of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.

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