Pediatrician Mom Prepares for ‘Back to School’ Before First Day

Pediatrician Mom Prepares for 'Back to School' Before First Day

Preparing Kids for a Successful School Year: Insights from Dr. Natalie Muth


Any parent knows that back-to-school season can turn into one of the busiest times of the year. As a medical professional whose many roles include being a parent to two adolescents, Dr. Natalie Muth might know more than most.

Muth is a pediatrician and registered dietitian at Children’s Primary Care Medical Group in Carlsbad, California. She’s also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, has led or been part of several expert panels, and wrote a book on family wellness.

Despite all that expertise, as she prepares to send her son and daughter to 10th and seventh grades, respectively, Muth said she faces challenges that would be familiar to any parent: “ensuring an earlier sleep time and enough sleep at night, keeping the screen time to a minimum as much as possible, and helping them be mentally and physically prepared for the excitement and challenge of a new school year.”

Getting Kids Ready for School: Common Health Oversights

While the first day of school may be on everyone’s calendar, parents might overlook the importance of the few days to a week before school starts to help kids get ready.

This includes adopting a sleep routine and schedule that ensures kids go to bed at a reasonable time to wake up well rested and ready for the start of the school day. Establishing consistent bedtimes is crucial as children need an adequate amount of sleep for their age group (9-12 hours for 6-12-year-olds, and 8-10 hours for 13-18-year-olds).

Reintroducing screen time rules that may have been relaxed over the summer is also essential. Additionally, making plans for healthy meals and snacks that fit into a busy schedule should not be overlooked. This is as important for teens as it is for younger children.

Parents might also neglect the timing and need to schedule a wellness check for their children. These check-ups ensure that the child is physically ready for school, able to participate in sports, and up to date on recommended immunizations.

Making Vaccinations Less Stressful for Kids

Receiving the recommended childhood vaccines is an essential part of protecting children from contagious and life-threatening illnesses. Despite widespread misinformation, Dr. Muth assures parents that vaccinations are the right thing to do.

Pediatrician offices and their staff are highly experienced in providing vaccines for children in a way that helps ease their worries and distress. Dr. Muth advises parents to be honest with their child if they ask about receiving a shot. Validating their concerns and offering reassurance without excessive discussion is key. If unsure, parents should communicate this uncertainty to their child.

Dr. Muth advises against negotiating or using food rewards as incentives for getting vaccinated. Instead, trust in the expertise of healthcare professionals who administer vaccines safely and effectively.

Balancing Professional Insights and Real-Life Challenges

Being a pediatrician certainly provides Dr. Muth with valuable knowledge on helping children thrive. However, she acknowledges that uncertainties and the dynamics of “real life” pose challenges that require additional support and information.

Dr. Muth often turns to family, colleagues, friends, and credible resources like the American Academy of Pediatrics when she needs guidance for her own family and her patients. This approach reflects her humility as a professional and her commitment to providing the best care possible.

Addressing Mental Health for Back-to-School Success

In preparing for the new school year, it is essential to consider the mental health of students. They face pressures and challenges associated with connecting with new peers and teachers, succeeding academically, participating in sports and clubs, and navigating the social environment.

Dr. Muth emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the variety of emotions children may experience during this transition. Their natural mix of excitement and anxiety should be validated and addressed in a supportive manner. Adjusting from the carefree days of summer to the rhythm of school schedules and routines can be chaotic, but with guidance, children can adapt successfully.



Childhood Diseases: Measles, Mumps, & MoreSee Slideshow

This slideshow provides information on childhood illnesses, helping parents stay proactive in keeping their children healthy. It complements Dr. Muth’s advice on the importance of immunizations and overall well-being.

In conclusion, Dr. Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and expert in family wellness, offers valuable insights on how parents can prepare their children for a successful school year. From establishing healthy sleep routines to prioritizing mental health, her expertise combined with personal experiences demonstrates the importance of integrating professional knowledge with real-life challenges. By following her guidance and leveraging credible resources, parents can enhance their children’s well-being and set them up for academic success.