Starting off new school year on a healthy note

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- School will be back in session before we know it, so now's the time to prepare for giving kids a healthy start.

A trip to the pediatrician is important, to make sure kids are up-to-date on vaccinations and to get their vision and hearing checked.

Some kids may also need medication release forms for school files.

Routines often go out the window during summer, but with a little time, you can get the kids back on schedule

About two weeks before school starts, ease the kids back into sleep and breakfast routines.

"You want to start eating breakfast on time," says Dr. Richard So, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic.

"Another thing, too, with regards to sleep - most kids under 12 need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep, after that is about 9 to 10 hours of sleep. You want to start moving their bedtimes back about 15-20 minutes every 2 to 3 days prior to school start," he adds.

That should ensure less wake-up drama with the new school year and could enhance performance in school.

Also, practice hand-washing in the weeks leading up to school, to make a habit of it.

It's the best way to avoid the colds that often pop up when kids go back to class.

"All we have to do is rub our eye, touch our mouth, touch something else and we've transferred germs and that's the main way people catch things," says infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Koniarczyk.

Wash both hands and wrists for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.

One way to remember the time is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.

If your child will walk to school or to the bus, be sure to go over the safety basics, even if they are veterans of the route.

"You might want to do a dry run with your kids, walking to the bus stop, walking to school, explaining to them what might happen and what you should do, yelling for help, running, don't take a short cut through the woods." said the doctor.

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