Check Off the Basics for Going Back to School

There’s more to going back to school than buying school supplies. Here are five items to do now for a healthier student and a better school year.

1. See the Doctor

Summer vacation is a good time to schedule appointments with the pediatrician or primary care physician for annual well checks and sports exams.

Typical wellness exams include:

  • Growth and development evaluation (height, weight, body mass index)
  • Blood pressure check
  • Hearing and vision tests
  • Required immunizations and optional vaccines such as COVID-19 and HPV
  • Preventive care
  • Review of medications and family health history
  • Screening for behavioral or emotional issues
  • Spine check for possible curvatures

For a list of local healthcare providers including primary care physicians, go to our website,

2. Get Vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older. All children are eligible for free vaccines in Louisiana; find a location at

Vaccines help protect children from severe disease, hospitalization or death. Children and teens can:

  • Get very sick from COVID-19
  • Have both short- and long-term health problems
  • Spread the virus to others

Discuss any questions that you have with your child's doctor. It’s important to know that COVID-19 vaccines can be given with other annual vaccines.

3. Eat Healthy Meals

Start the school day with a healthy breakfast, which positively affects a child's learning and behavior. Children who do not eat breakfast are likely to be less physically active and have a lower cardio-respiratory fitness level. A breakfast of whole grains, high fiber and protein-rich foods helps them in the classroom and on the playground.

Encourage children to also make healthy and nutritious choices at meals and snack time. When packing lunch, keep it as varied as your children’s tastes. Here are some options:

  • Turkey and cheese rollups, fresh fruit, and yogurt cup
  • Hummus and pita bread
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Nut butter (check school restrictions) and banana pinwheels on tortillas
  • Salads with your child’s favorite veggies or fruits
  • Baby carrots, broccoli and celery sticks with ranch dressing
  • Mini pizza on tortilla or pita bread
  • Water - no sugary drinks

4. Get Plenty of Sleep

Children need set bedtimes. For better sleep routines, follow the same wake-sleep cycle even on weekends to help regulate circadian rhythms. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine children ages 6-12 should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers, ages 13-18, should sleep 8 to 10 hours a night.

5. Stay Active

Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services say preschool-age children, ages 3-5, should be active throughout the day to enhance their growth and development. Children and adolescents, ages 6-17, need at least 60 minutes or more daily of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Encourage your child to participate in some type of organized sport, dance or other activity that involves aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening exercise. Limit their screen time and repeat what your mother told you, "Go play outside!"

For more information contact the Wellness Education Center of Thibodaux Regional, 985.493.4765.