Credit: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
From COVID concerns to mental health, here are some back-to-school prep tips from a pediatrician
Dr. Yameika Head, a pediatrician with Atrium Health Navicent, says it's important for parents to check in with their kids' mental health as they get ready to start a new school year.
Children across Georgia are heading back into the classroom soon, if they haven't started already. When it comes to preparing kids for the new school year, there’s a lot for parents to consider. Dr. Yameika Head, a pediatrician with Atrium Health Navicent, has some tips.
Check in with kids’ mental health
While many students are excited for the return of school, that’s not true for all. For some, going back to school can bring worry or anxiety and parents need to be mindful, Head said.
“Everybody’s experience at school is not the same,” she said. “So just checking in, just seeing how you’re feeling about the new school year and if anything is needed, we can start now.”
She said if parents have concerns about their children’s mental health, they need to talk to their pediatrician, who can help the child get the care they need.
With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing across Georgia and many school districts starting back while their county’s COVID-19 community level of spread is high, Head recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I'm about vaccines," she said.
COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective at protecting against serious illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children ages 6 months and older — and adults — get vaccinated.
For kids who may be worried about COVID-19 at school, Head said getting the vaccine can help ease those fears. The vaccine can also help keep kids in schools, she said.
"And so letting them know if they are protected then they're less likely [to] go back to virtual school," Head said.
Eat a healthy breakfast
Head said a healthy breakfast will help kids to do well in school.
"Food is designed to be fuel for our bodies," she said. "So it is very important that we give our body fuel so we can be able to process information that we're learning in school."
Head admits she sometimes struggles with making sure to eat a healthy breakfast, but just having something in the morning will help.
"I just want to rock and roll with my day, but sometimes I'll just pick up a banana and that just helps me to get through the day until lunch," she said.
And for kids who haven't gone back to school yet, she said, it's not too early to start.
Get into a routine
For those who haven’t started back to school, Head said the best piece of advice she can give is to start getting into a routine now. She said it's important to set an expectation of how things will be once school starts.
For example, parents will need to set a time for when kids will need to go to sleep and when they will need to wake up for school — and then get them used to sleeping and waking at that time.
This will help kids succeed in school, Head said.