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School Days are Here Again

Dr. Marta Atalla Health and Wellness

Doesn't it seem like yesterday they were putting away their backpacks for the summer? Now, your kiddos are filling them up with notebooks and fresh pencils once again.

And while they're wishing summer could last longer, you're thinking about items on your to-do list, which might include an annual checkup and immunizations.

In addition, from avoiding homework hassles to fitting in, here are some more ways to help your kids have a successful school year.

Hone homework skills

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents can help children learn good homework habits by designating a time and place and offering encouragement.

Keep in mind:

• The area should be free of TV or distracting noises. It could be a desk or a well-lit kitchen table.

• Have your child help choose the homework time. Some study better right after school; others in the early evening. Or you might offer guidelines, such as homework before video games.

• It's OK to provide occasional help—without actually doing the work. Offer plenty of praise though! If your child struggles with daily assignments, be sure to mention this to the teacher.

Getting there safely

Will your child walk or bike to school or a bus stop?

Do a dry run. If this is your child's first time commuting, drive or walk the route together before school starts. Point out any potential hazards, like busy intersections.

Don't forget a helmet. Make sure your cyclist has a well-fitting helmet—and uses it every ride. Here's a tip: If you let your child pick the helmet, it's more likely to be worn.

Review some rules of the road. Go over safety around traffic. For instance:

• Ride with the traffic, not against it, and stay as far to the right as possible.

• Stop at all stop signs and lights.

• Look drivers in the eye before crossing at crosswalks, to be sure they see you.

And if your teen drives to school? Have a talk about safety, no texting while driving and the need to wear seatbelts.

Score with sports safety

Sports help kids stay fit and build confidence. But first your child will need a sports physical to help make sure it's safe to play.

Schools often offer physicals. But you may want your child's regular doctor to do a physical that covers his or her overall health as well.

Beyond scheduling a physical, you can promote safe play and practices. Often, kids get hurt when they overdo it. Luckily, it's possible to avoid many injuries with precautions. For instance:

• Make sure kids take at least one day off per week and one month off per year from a particular sport to give the body time to recover.

• Children should never play through pain. Be alert for any pain or swelling that a coach may not notice and your athlete may ignore.

• Limit the number of teams your child plays on in a single season, and don't let your child play a single sport year-round.

• Make sure your youngster has proper safety equipment.

Encourage friendships

Many kids have trouble making friends, which can harm self-esteem. High school especially can be an awkward time. What can you do to help? The AAP offers suggestions:

If your child is often alone, talk about it. You might ask how your child feels about this. Teens often think adults don't understand.

Practice what to say. Kids often don't know what to say when they're with a group or being teased. You might role-play what to do in such situations.

Offer to take your child and a friend to an activity. Suggest something brief, like a movie.

Encourage your child to join a club or team. But don't require your child to participate.

Need a pediatrician? Dr. Marta Atalla is accepting new patients at her Selma office, 1142 Rose Ave., Ste. C, with a phone number of (559) 856-6175. She also cares for patients at Adventist Health / Community Care – Reedley Children’s Health on the campus of Adventist Medical Center – Reedley. The office number is 559-637-2384, and the address is 1433 N. Acacia Ave.