Posted at: 08/16/2013 7:03 PM
By: John Doetkott

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Doctors Urge Back-To-School Health Check-Ups

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Soon Minnesota's classrooms will be filled once again with thousands of students returning from summer break.

And to make sure they return healthy, experts encourage all families to get check-ups to make sure their kids are ready for the new year.

Experts say the most important step is getting children immunized.

The majority of Minnesota schools have immunization requirements and without the vaccines, most won't let you through the front door.

“Particularly kindergarten and 7th grade, there's a lot of requirements for those grades,” said Dorothy Meyer, a public health nurse for Mower County. “You should check with your provider to see if your immunizations are up to date."

Next, experts say it's important to get an eye-exam, because if you can't see the board, you're probably not getting much out of the lesson.

“What happens with kids that are far-sighted, or have astigmatism, or have muscle issues, is quite often they'll just not like to read,” said Dr. Jeff Anderson, an optometrist with the Family Eye Care Center in Austin. “Thus quite often most don't do very good in school."

But before they even get in the classroom, experts say a child's success depends primarily on how well fed and rested they are.

“If they're tired they’re not going to concentrate well,” Meyer said. “Their grades are going to go down, they're not going to interact with the teacher or the other students if they're tired or not well nourished."

And for parents packing their kid’s bag for that first day, experts say you should only pack the essentials to avoid unnecessary strain on the body.

Experts say backpacks should be no wider than the child and weigh roughly 10 percent of what the kid weighs.

“Most backpacks are a lot heavier than that, so you can really get into some back and neck problems if the backpacks are too overloaded,” Meyer said.

Experts say taking these simple steps now, will lead to better grades down the road.

“If you get the school year off to a good start, it sets the tone for the whole year,” Meyer said.