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Your back to school health prep checklist

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CLEVELAND CLINIC – School will be back in session before you know it and now is the perfect time to prepare your kids for an A+ start.

Do your "PREP" work now to help your entire family make a smooth transition from summer to school year.

Pencil in your pediatrician

Do your children require back-to-school check-ups? Make your appointment now for any immunizations or sports physicals needed.

"Parents need to make sure before the kids get to school that they're up to date on their vaccinations," says Hanan Nashed, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Use annual wellness checks as an opportunity to discuss questions and concerns with your pediatrician.

Return to a healthy sleeping schedule

Families' regular routines get a bit off track in the summer.  Remember, school-aged children ages six to 12 need at least ten hours of sleep per night, while teens 12 to 18 should get at least nine hours

Start inching your way back to a normal sleep schedule a week before school starts.

"You want to start to move their bedtimes back about 15-20 minutes every 2 to 3 days prior to school start," says Richard So, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Establish outdoor safety guidelines

Being active and independent is critical to your child's overall health. If they walk or take the bus, plan a safety route.

Practice hand washing

"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 Michael Koniarczyk, MD, of Cleveland Clinic Children's.

A simple strategy for keeping kids well? Teach them to wash their hands and wrists for 20 seconds to get rid of germs – such as the common cold and flu viruses.

While washing, physicians suggest teaching kids to sing "Happy Birthday" twice, which takes about 20 seconds, to make hand washing fun.