Health, financial reminders for parents before school starts

Health, financial reminders for parents before school starts
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Before you know it school will be back in session. The beginning of the school year is always hectic, and experts are urging parents not to let their child’s physical and financial health take a backseat to the added responsibilities that are sure to come.

Parents are encouraged to stay ahead of trouble by taking care of important tasks as early as possible. That includes remembering the following tips.


  • Never load a backpack more than 15% of the student’s total body weight (i.e. for a 100-lb. student, this means the fully loaded pack shouldn’t weigh more than 15 lbs.)
  • Determining backpack weight is important and students should learn when the backpack exceeds the 15% rule so they can remove items.
  • Purchase a lightweight pack that doesn’t add a lot of weight to your child’s load and is appropriate for your child’s size
  • The height of the backpack should extend from approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level or slightly above the waist
  • Select a pack with well-padded and wide shoulder straps and one that has a padded back to protect your child from being poked from objects carried inside the pack
  • Make sure the backpack contains multiple compartments that help distribute the weight more evenly
  • Make sure you’re child knows to load the heaviest items closest to their back (back of pack near shoulder straps) and arrange books and materials so they don’t slide around by using all compartments.
  • Distribute weight evenly by wearing both straps. Wearing a pack over one shoulder may seem like a cooler trend, but it can cause a student to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly on the back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back.
  • Encourage your child to pick up their backpack the right way to avoid back injuries; bend at the knees and grab the pack with both hands when lifting the pack to the shoulders.

“School children and teens should not carry too much weight in their backpack or wear it the wrong way. Either of these missteps can cause a lot of problems for kids, such as backaches, neck and shoulder pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the arms and hands,” said Ochsner pediatrician Dionna Mathews. “A child’s posture can be damaged both in the short and long term.”

There are dozens of other school related activities and processes that can put an enormous amount of stress on the body, which is why doctors also recommend parents plan ahead to keep up with their child’s routine physicals and immunizations.


  • Has your child had a cardiovascular risk assessment?
  • Has your child received a scoliosis screening?
  • Is your child up-to-date on puberty assessments?
  • Has your child had all of the recommended lab screenings?
  • When was the last time your child has has a psychological and behavioral assessments
  • Sports physicals need to be done annually in accordance with LHSAA recommendations.
  • School forms such as a Medication Administration form and up-to-date Vaccination Records are typically needed close to the start of the academic year. Has your child received all of their immunization shots?
  • Proof of immunization and/or TB skin tests are typically required for college registration, so high school seniors should see their physicians once they have made a decision on which college to attend to be sure that vaccines are up-to-date.

While the convenience of after-hours clinics does appeal to some busy parents, these exams are best done by your child’s pediatrician—the one that knows your child’s health best.

“Physicals are extremely important in the growth of a healthy child. Most parents are aware of the vaccines that are required by school at ages 4-5, 11, and 16. However, it is still important to have annual well-checkups for any child less than 18 years of age. During these visits your child will have a complete physical exam including age-appropriate screenings,” said a representative from the Baton Rouge Clinic.

The Better Business Bureau says it’s important to not forget about your child’s financial health during the school year also. In fact, parents and students expect to spend more than ever on back-to-school shopping in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.


  • When shopping from an online website the first step is to make sure the URL starts with “https” and includes a lock symbol. The “s” in “https” stands for secure, that way you know your information is being protected.
  • Look up the website’s privacy policy and contact information. If it is not clearly listed, or they only have an email as the point of contact, take that as a big red flag and shop elsewhere.
  • Do your research. An unknown website may offer a similar product at a lower price. The lowest price isn’t always the best route. Check for user reviews and badges for consumer protection agencies.
  • Be sure to use your credit card instead of your debit card, as credit cards not only provide additional protection, but it’s also easier to dispute a fraudulent charge.
  • Be extremely wary of any website or store that asks for your child’s personal information in order to access special deals.
  • If you’re buying supplies through a website like Craigslist, make sure you don’t wire money to someone you’ve not met. Use PayPal if possible, but if you are using cash, make sure you meet in a public place and bring a friend.
  • If you use Facebook you know banner ads are all over the place and many ads are even catered to what you like. Some of them, however, are just click bait ads to drive you to a different website where you could potentially be asked to input personal information. Take note of the ad and go to the store's website directly.


  • Don’t allow your child to carry around their social insurance number or social security number. Leave it at home and locked in a safe place.
  • If a business or school asks for their SIN or SSN, ask questions. Why do they need it and where and how is this information being stored? How long is it being stored and how will it be terminated? Who has access to it?
  • Educate your child on being safe if they are active in the online world. Keep detailed personal information off social media profiles.

“Believe it or not, children are especially good targets because they have zero credit history and no questionable banking transactions in their history. A child can have their ID stolen through their social security number or social insurance number and you may not find out about it for years,” wrote a representative for the Better Business Bureau.


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