Although there's plenty of summer left to enjoy, now is a great time to consider these health hacks from Physician Assistant,  Valerie McDonald, to help your kid feel ready and stay healthy as they go back to school.

Health Hacks for Back to School

With back-to-school right around the corner I’m sure that families are trying to enjoy every last day of summer vacation! But before we know it, our kiddos, including my 6 year old daughter, will be back into the swing of things. The CDC recommends that parents and students be mindful of some health essentials for a more productive school year.

Wash your hands:

Germs are everywhere! Handwashing with soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of colds, flu, Covid 19 and other diseases. At school, it’s important for students to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilet!

Eat well and be active:

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. children have obesity. Children with obesity not only are at higher risk for chronic medical conditions but are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem. Drinking plenty of water every day is a great habit to establish while in turn limiting sugary drinks! Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy snack option for school lunches and those infamous “after school snacks”. Studies have shown that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better throughout the school day. Additionally, children who eat breakfast are generally in better health overall, and skipping breakfast is more likely to cause weight gain rather than prevent it.

Don’t use E-cigarettes:

“E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. In 2018 more than 3.6 million young people – including 1 in 5 high-school students and 1 in 20 middle-school students – currently used (in the past 30 days) e-cigarettes. The nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm the developing adolescent brain – specifically the areas of the brain

Stay cool:

Schools are opening soon, but it’s still hot out there. Learn how to prevent and treat heat-related illness. Dress appropriately on hot days, apply sunscreen prior to attending school if time spent outside, and drink more water!

Stay safe:

Any child can fall, hit their head, or get a concussion in any number of school settings ranging from school sports to the hallway, playground, cafeteria and beyond. It is important that if any head injury resulting in symptoms (headache, dizziness, vision changes, nausea/vomiting) occurs to come in for a checkup. A return to PE class/sports protocol is important to follow for any significant head injury.

Plan for emergencies:

As children head back to school, it’s important to have a written emergency care plan and to practice that plan as often as needed. This should include medications that need to be taken in school, as well as back up plans for weather and/or transportation issues

Connect with kids at school and home:

“Adolescent connectedness” refers to children’s sense of belonging, of being cared for and supported by parents, teachers, and other important people. How connected children feel to school and family can have a strong influence on their lives that continues well into adulthood. Connectedness is especially important due to the changes we have faced over the last year during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Get vaccinated:

Making sure their children get vaccinated is one of the most important things parents can do to protect the health of their child. Vaccinations also protect a child’s classmates, friends, relatives, and others in the community. The Covid 19 vaccine can help keep the spread of this virus in control so that students are able to attend school on a regular basis this upcoming year.


Summer breaks and late nights go hand in hand, but those early wakeup calls are looming on the horizon and getting enough quality sleep can help with your child’s academic success in the new school year. We recommend that children aged 6 to 12 get between 9 and 12 hours of sleep per night and that teens get 8 to 10.


- Valerie McDonald, PA



Resource: Moshi | A Sleep and Mindfulness App for Kids

Resource: CDC COVID-19 Back to School Guidance

Resource: Tips to Reduce Stress at Mealtime

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