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CHRISTUS Health Provides Tips To Help Parents, Students Gear Up for New School Year 

Dr. David Larsen
Family Medicine Physician

It’s back-to-school season for students across Texas, so families may need to work through some significant adjustments. Those adjustments do not have to cause a massive disruption in a child’s life or health if parents learn how they can help their student get situated ahead of time.

A significant change for children as they make the switch from summer mode to school is their sleep. The demands of back-to-school schedules can make getting adequate sleep seem daunting. However, it is possible and essential for a calmer, more productive school year.

“A good night’s sleep helps the body repair itself, promotes growth, builds a strong immune system, and even enhances memory and problem-solving abilities,” said Dr. David Larsen, family medicine physician with CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic.

Larsen suggests starting a child’s new bedtime routine days, if not weeks, ahead of the start of school. He says it is essential to have a consistent schedule, going to bed and waking up and the same time each day, to regulate the body’s internal clock.

Adequate exercise can also play a key role in child development.
“Ideally, children would do a combination of exercises to include aerobatic activities like swimming, cycling, and dancing, along with muscle-strengthening exercises like push-ups, climbing, and gymnastics,” Larsen said. “Along with bone-strengthening activities like jumping,
skipping, and sports with quick movements, like basketball and soccer, can help optimize growth, boost mood, energy and overall well-being.”

Along with sleep and exercise, Dr. Courtney Smith, a pediatrician with CHRISTUS Children’s, says there are some key elements to keep in mind: a healthy diet, good hygiene, stress management, staying hydrated, and remaining up to date on vaccinations. “All of these play a vital role in keeping our little ones healthy, so it’s important to ensure we’re
loading them up on nutrient-rich food that will provide them with the necessary vitamins to help fight germs,” Smith said. “But we also need to continue teaching our children to wash their hands frequently and stay home when they feel ill.”

Another back-to-school tip involved kids wearing their backpacks correctly to avoid any damage to their spines. “Toting around heavy backpacks can lead to neck pain, bad posture, muscle strains, and even
nerve compression,” Larsen said. “Try to carry what is only necessary and choose a backpack with padded straps and multiple compartments to distribute the weight more evenly.”

Larsen also added that an often-overlooked aspect of returning to school is time management from parents and students.

“Time management is one of the keys to student academic success,” he said. “Learn how to manage and make time for studying, activities, and relaxation.”

To learn more back-to-school tips, visit