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It's important to re-establish sound sleep patterns, form fitness routines and get checkups with needed immunizations

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It's important to re-establish sound sleep patterns, form fitness routines and get checkups with needed immunizations

Dr. Christopher Aranda is a pediatrician with Community Healthcare System’s Community Care Network.

It’s time to head back to the classroom.

And though there's much to be done, from shopping for supplies and clothes to getting the right lunchbox, it's also important to attend to students' health needs.

Students can learn better and have better academic success if they are healthy, and issues such as physical inactivity and unhealthy dietary behaviors can affect academic performance, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children's sleep habits, for one, are  commonly altered during summer break, and parents can help their kids get back on track so they’re well-rested for school.

“Summer is a time for fun, but it can definitely change sleeping habits,” said Dr. Christopher Aranda, a pediatrician with Community Healthcare System’s Community Care Network.

Parents can start off by paying attention to how much sleep their children are getting each night.

“Children's sleep varies by age, but generally school-age children need eight to 11 hours of sleep a night,” Aranda said.

Parents can help their children by creating a sleep schedule that sets the time to go to bed and wake up each day.

Limiting electronics use also is key to getting good rest at night.

“The most common thing we see as pediatricians is increased screen time over summer break,” Aranda said. “We recommend limiting screen time one to two hours prior to bedtime to ensure proper sleep hygiene.”

When establishing a sleep routine, it’s helpful for parents to set an example for their children.

“Reinforce the benefits of sleep for your family by modeling good sleep habits to help children and teens understand the importance of sleep,” according to the National Sleep Foundation.

A lack of exercise can reduce the sleep drive in children, so it’s also important to stay active. There are a variety of exercises such as a family walk that can help youth fall and stay asleep at night.

“Physical activity increases your drive to sleep at night as well as reduces stress and improves mood,” according to the National Sleep Foundation.

“Regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduce the risk of developing health conditions,” according to the CDC.

“Children can get back into sports/extracurricular activities if they have been less active over the summer,” Aranda said. “We encourage at least one to two hours of physical activity per day.”

Brisk walking, bike riding, rope jumping, climbing on playground equipment and running are among activities children can do to help lead a healthy lifestyle.

Besides promoting good sleep habits and regular exercise, the summer might be good time to check in with your pediatrician, Aranda said.

“Generally, school-age children require either a school physical or sports physical prior to starting school, so it is a great time for them to have their already-needed yearly wellness visits during summer,” he said. “It is important that you check in with your school for school-specific forms.”

During wellness visits, parents can ensure their children are up to date on vaccinations.

“Depending on age, children may be due for vaccines prior to starting school,” Aranda said. “It is important that school-age children come in for their yearly appointments to assess need for vaccination. If there is any question, you can always reference the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) vaccination schedule.”

Visit publications.aap.org/redbook/pages/immunization-schedules for information about youth immunization schedules.

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