Your back-to-school checklist.

Check these boxes to help kids get off to a healthy start.

The back-to-school season can mean a busy rush, from getting new supplies to juggling sports schedules.

Parents: You’ve got this!

To help, here’s a quick — but important — checklist. It highlights some ways to help your kiddos have a healthier school year.

Make sure shots are up-to-date.

Immunizations help protect kids and teens — and all of us — from serious diseases. Think measles, meningitis and whooping cough, just to name a few. And because these vaccines are so important, schools often require them.

To see what’s recommended in general in the U.S., check out these vaccine schedules for childrenOpens a new window and teensOpens a new window.

Schedule a checkup.

All kids need well-child exams. Is your child due for one? These regular wellness visits are also a great way to ensure that children and teens get the vaccines they need.

Will your child be playing sports? If you haven’t already, schedule a sports physical so you can mark that off your list.*

Get sleep back on track.

After a summer of late nights, waking up early may be a struggle for kids. To help younger kids adjust, start to move bedtimes and wake-up times earlier as the first week of school approaches.

Worried this is a losing battle with older kids? You might encourage moving toward a healthier sleep schedule by gradually limiting electronic use in the evenings and rolling back summertime curfews. Talk with kids so they understand the goal is their well-being — to help them be at their best when school starts.

Set the wheels of safety turning.

Before school starts, it’s a good idea to practice your child’s walking or biking route. Depending on how your child gets to school, you may want to review some safety basics, such as:

  • Obey all traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Look both ways before crossing streets and driveways.
  • Wear a helmet when biking.
  • Always buckle your seatbelt.
  • Never text while walking or driving.

Feed young brains.

Kids need both a nutritious breakfast and lunch — think of it as fuel for learning. If you want your child to have a school lunch account, ask for any forms you need to complete. Some schools serve breakfast and lunch options. Free or discounted meals may be available.

Brown-bag safety. Will you be making your child’s lunch? Get tips to pack foods that stay safe from germs. To make sure good food doesn’t go to waste, involve kids in lunch planning. If they’re invested in what’s packed, they may be more likely to eat it.


What to do next

Make sure the whole family is protected from the flu. Most everyone 6 months and older needs a yearly flu shot. Learn more about how to get one.

See what other preventive care services your family may need. You can create lists based on age and gender.

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*Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Safety Council