BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A student's most important tool is not found in their back pack. According to the CEO of Health Centers in Schools Sue Catchings, one of the biggest factors impacting a child's ability to learn is their health. That's why it's important to make sure your child is healthy at the start of school.
"Parents should always bring their children to their physician, to their primary care provider and make sure that they're healthy. If they have a chronic disease they need to remain in contact with either that pediatrician or a sub-specialist," said Catchings.
Health Centers in Schools is a nonprofit group providing health services to students in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. One of their most important missions is screening children's hearing and vision. Each year, Health Centers will conduct 25,000 free hearing and vision screenings. The screenings will start in September with elementary schools and work up to other grades. If you feel your child needs to be seen sooner, talk to your primary care physician.
"If you can't see, you're going to have a hard time reading. If you can't hear, you can't hear how the letters sound and so you can't speak the words correctly," said Catchings.
All parents should make sure their child is up to date on vaccinations. The type of vaccines needed depend on age. By age six, the Centers for Disease Control recommends a DTap vaccine which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, as well as an MMR vaccine which covers measles, mumps, and rubella. By age 11, the CDC recommends a Tdap vaccine which also protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, as well as a meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Vaccines given may vary for each child, so it is best to check with your doctor.
It is also important to let school officials know if your child has a chronic disease like asthma or diabetes, especially if there is medication involved. Children who require medication at school must turn in a medical consent form to school officials. A copy of the form can be found here.
When starting a new school year, kids often feel anxious. Talk to your children about any concerns they have. If needed, Health Centers also has counseling and mental health services available for students.
"If there is something that's troubling them, it's incumbent that the child say something to the parent or to a teacher or adult on campus. They will help," said Catchings.
If a child or their family does not have access to health care, Health Centers can help connect them to proper resources. For more information, click here.