Doctors' Notes

5 Tips for a Safe and Healthy School Year

Credit: Shutterstock

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents (and husband and wife) physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 


It’s that time of year again … back to school! While parents and caregivers may experience different emotions–ranging from anxiety of what the new school year holds to relief that we’ll no longer have to hear the infamous summer phrase “I’m bored”–we all want our children having a healthy and prosperous year.

Here are some tips to ensure that your child has a safe and successful start to the school year:

1. Prepare the Paperwork: Although often anxiety-provoking, school physicals are an essential component to starting the school year off right. The physical includes a full assessment of the child’s needs that the school should know about, from vision and hearing screenings to medication lists, food allergies, physical health and shot records.

2. Banish the Bulky Backpacks: Improper backpacks remain a source of chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain for many children once school is back in session. You should be looking for the backpacks with straps that can be worn on both shoulders, are heavily padded and are the appropriate length for the height of your child. Additionally, the backpack should never weigh more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. If you have an 80-pound child, the backpack should not weigh more than 8 pounds. Yes, weigh the backpacks!

3. Transportation Talk: Whether your child is walking, biking to school or riding the school bus, there are some critical safety tips that you should share. Street-crossing safety, stranger danger, helmet safety, and following all rules while riding, entering and exiting the school bus are important talking points.

4. Bye-Bye Bully: Bullying is so far-reaching in this day and age that it not only includes “playground” bullying, but cyber-bullying as well. About one in every four teenagers has experienced bullying, but six out of every 10 teens report that they witness bullying at least once every day. Let’s arm our children with the knowledge that they can come to a trusted adult with any bullying concerns–as a victim or a bystander–and support them at home, school, or in the community.

5. Necessary Nutrition: The truth is if we offer healthy, nutritionally packed, fresh foods daily, then our kids will eat them. As a community, let’s continue to adopt healthy habits and make nutritionally sound choices as it relates to our daily meals and revolutionize the way our children are eating. If your children are eating at school, demand healthy options in the cafeteria and in school vending machines. If you’re packing your child’s lunch daily, use this as an opportunity to create those healthy habits that last a lifetime.

(Children doing homework via Shutterstock)

It’s a health thing … we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors: Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!