Now that most children are back in school for the 2016-17 year, every parent's goal is to keep them in the classroom performing at a high level. The best way to do that is to help them stay healthy, say Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare experts.

From sleep to stretching to shots — there are many things parents can do to ensure their kids have a successful school year. Gillette experts have a few recommendations:

Gillette experts offer back to school tips.Sleep: 

  • Get Plenty of It: Your children probably need more sleep than you think. Preschool-aged kids need 11-12 hours per night. Until kids are in their teens, they need at least 10 hours a night.
  • Patterns Matter: Kids need routine when it comes to sleep. Your children should hit the sack at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Get Rid of Tech: Smart phones, TVs and computers should be strictly off limits before bed. Electronic devices can keep a child awake when it’s time to wind down. Ideally, the bedroom should be used only for sleeping.

Expert:  John Garcia, MD, pediatric sleep medicine specialist

Sports Injuries and Exercise

  • Playing is Paramount: Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Whether its hopscotch, running around the playground or joining an after-school sports program, encourage your child to get moving.
  • Prevention is Key: Staying injury-free should be the goal of any of any student athlete. Stretching, staying hydrated, taking time outs and paying attention to injuries are all necessary to stay healthy. Fatigue can lead to unnecessary accidents.
  • Monitor Head Injuries: If children bump their heads on the playground or field, it’s important to keep a close eye on them for any symptoms of brain injury. If parents notice any abnormal symptoms such concentration problems, headache, loss of memory, dizziness or ringing in the ears, they should immediately schedule an appointment with a health care provider. For more serious cases, call 911.

Expert: Stephen Sundberg, MD, surgeon and associate medical director of orthopedics

Vaccinations

  • Always Get Vaccines: Immunizations are safe, effective and crucial to keeping your children and family healthy. At least 16 potentially harmful diseases can be prevented by vaccinations, according to the CDC. Vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, rubella and hepatitis can be very serious, and even deadly – especially in kids.
  • Options Abound: Immunizations to protect against influenza, or the flu, are already being offered. They’re important to get. Every child older than 6 months should get a flu vaccine regardless of how it’s administered each year. New this year: experts recommend a flu shot over the nasal spray flu vaccine.
  • Stay on Schedule: Infants, children and teens continue to need various immunizations as they grow. Consult with a health care professional regularly to make sure you don’t miss any key vaccines along the way.

Expert: Scott Schwantes, MD, pediatrician 

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