Top 10 Tips to Prepare Your Family for a Healthy School Year

August 9, 2019

The school year is already in full swing for Flint Community Schools and many families across Genesee County are gearing up for school routines, fall sports and activities.  

At the Genesee Health Plan, we want to make sure you and your family are ready to go for a healthy and successful school year. Here are some tips to help you throughout the year ahead.   

1. Create a family calendar for important dates.

It’s hard to keep track of all doctor appointments, holiday breaks, after-school activities and more. We suggest creating a calendar within a central place in your home where your family can keep track of important dates throughout the school year. This could mean hanging a calendar in your kitchen or using an erasable white board and updating it regularly with dates and appointments. Don’t be afraid to get creative and involve the whole family on this project!

2. Schedule eye and dental exams.

Good vision is key to success in the classroom. A child who is squinting in class, losing place while reading or sitting too close to a TV screen may have vision issues that will affect their reading and school success. MIChild (Medicaid) allows children under age 19 to receive one routine eye exam every 12 months and eyeglasses once every 24 months. The child may get a new pair of eyeglasses every 12 months if their prescription changes.

Good oral health is also key to success in school. Tooth decay is the most common constant childhood disease and can lead to toothaches that can impact eating, sleeping and learning. Scheduling regular dental exams can catch oral health issues before they happen and make sure your child has a healthy mouth. If your child does not have dental coverage, Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) is available to children who have Medicaid and are under the age of 21.

If your child does not have health or dental coverage, or if you have questions about your child’s MIChild health coverage or Healthy Kids Dental coverage, contact Genesee Health Plan at 844-232-7740.

3. Plan healthy meals and snacks.  

Hunger can have a negative effect on learning. Help your child feel full and prepared for the school day by planning nutritious meals and snacks. Choose My Plate offers ideas for helping you plan budget-friendly and nutritious meals throughout the week. Need snack ideas? Check out this list of 85 Snack Ideas for Kids and Adults.

If you need food assistance, there are community resources that can help. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) provides a food assistance program for those who qualify. Visit their website for more information. Genesee Health Plan has a MDHHS worker located at their office who can help individuals apply for food assistance and other programs.

Additionally, Double Up Food Bucks available through MDHHS, allows you to get free milk and fresh fruits and vegetables when you make a purchase with a Bridge Card.

4. Prepare for back to school allergies.

As the seasons transition from summer to fall, be ready for allergies to follow. Ragweed tends to be the most common allergy during the fall, as well as dust and mold. Make sure school staff knows about your child’s allergies and that they have the necessary allergy medications on file.  

5. Put medications on file at school.

Remember to tell teachers and administrators about any medications your child takes, especially if they are taken during the school day. Also inform your school of any chronic medical conditions or food, environmental or medication allergies.

6. Encourage good personal hygiene.

Hand washing is important to prevent the spread of germs from school to your home. Teach children about the importance of washing hands regularly and to wash for at least 20 seconds. One fun and easy way to make sure your child is washing their hands long enough is to sing “Happy Birthday” two times while washing. To also prevent spreading of germs, teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow. Be cautious with your child using hand sanitizer, especially if your child is under the age of 12 and not supervised by an adult when using. Since July of this year, just under 10,000 cases of hand sanitizer exposure in children 12 years of age or younger has been reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Click here to read full report.

Remind children of self-care basics including brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day and showering or bathing. Encouraging and keeping up with these routines can help children have a healthy life throughout school and beyond. 

7. Encourage reading.

Reading is one of the best ways your child can continue to prepare for school. Encourage your child to read anything from books to magazines to newspapers to get them excited about reading. For young readers, storytime can also help your kids develop a love for reading.

8. Check your child’s backpack weight.

A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10% of what the student weighs, according to researchers. Heavy backpacks can cause muscle soreness, issues with posture, back and neck pain.

To prevent heavy backpacks, encourage your child to only carry the necessary items to and from school. It’s also important to carry backpacks with both shoulders, not one.

9. Back-to-school immunizations.

GHP in partnership with the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) provides funding to the GCHD for a variety of immunizations for community members and children as they head back to school. Immunizations are covered under the Genesee Health Plan, Healthy Michigan Plan, Medicaid, Medicare and Health Insurance Marketplace (Obamacare).

Michigan legislation does provide exemptions to mandatory vaccinations for medical, religious or other reasons. The GCHD can assist you with vaccination waivers for Genesee County residents and those who have children attending Genesee County Schools. For more information on how to obtain a waiver or to schedule an appointment for your child to receive back to school immunizations, call the GCHD at 810-237-4540 or click here to be directed to the immunizations page on their website. For more about immunization and waiver information, click here to be directed to the immunizations page on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Website. 

10. What back to school tip would like to share? Please comment below!

At the Genesee Health Plan, we’re here for you and your family year-round. Using these back-to-school tips can help you and your family prepare for a healthy, safe and successful school year. As always, if you need access to health care coverage or resources, give us a call at (844) 232-7740 for more information.

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