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Launching Young Minds: Navigating the Return to Pre-School, Kindergarten, and Grade School!

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

1. The return of the viral respiratory season: It usually takes a few weeks back in class for the respiratory viruses to return. Early season viruses include the rhinovirus and enteroviruses. Strep throat also makes its first appearance after about 2 weeks in class. As we head into October and November and the weather gets colder, we start to see more parainfluenza and croup. This is also the usual season for the coronaviruses, and I suspect COVID will re-emerge during this time. As we head to the winter the real baddies show up with spikes of RSV, Influenza, and the winter vomiting virus (norovirus). It is not unusual for grade school aged kids to get 10-14 different viral infections lasting 10-14 days apiece. This is the time for recurrent ear infections as well as asthma exacerbations. I anticipate a worse than average season again this year as kids continue to emerge from the pandemic.

2. School phobia: It is common for school aged kids to develop school phobia as they head back to school. Like adults, children are creatures of habit and new situations are scary and intimidating. A new teacher in a new classroom with new classmates can be difficult for some children and you can expect some emotional outbursts. Expect crying, regression, and school avoidance for the first couple weeks of school. It is important for parents to push through these times and not give in. Some kids will develop systemic symptoms, abdominal pain vomiting etc. to avoid going to school. As previously mentioned, recognizing that no one wants to send a sick kid to school, it is vitally important that parents recognize school phobia for what it is and gently but firmly encourage our patients to go to school. Kids with fever or actively vomiting every 15min are an exception.

3. Get active: Get your kids involved in activities with kids their age. It does not matter if it is sports, band, drama, art, or some other activity, it is important for them to be involved. It is important for children of this age to learn to socialize in different environments with diverse types of kids. The ability to be able to adapt to changing environments is a life skill that will allow them to be confident competent adolescents and adults.

4. Have fun: One of the saddest parts of kids making their way through their schooling is when school becomes a chore. I will always remember my oldest asking me “Dad, where are the toys?” when he entered his first-grade classroom. I personally counted every day to the next vacation or break. As parents we want to try and keep learning fun. Read with your kids, ask them about what they learned that day. Encourage them to be excited to learn new things but realize that learning new things is hard. Your interest will keep them going through the challenging times.

5. Get involved: Be a coach of the t-ball team, volunteer in the classroom, be a school advocate. It will not be long before your kindergartener is a teen and is not too keen in having you around. Take advantage of this time. You will never hear anyone say, “These kids sure grow up slow.”

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