QUT Health Clinics’ annual back-to-school free health checks are on now, providing foot checks, vision testing, nutrition assessments, dietary advice, and school-readiness screening for school-aged children, including those starting Prep.
A capacity 300 children registered to attend the three-day checks (January 16-18), an increase on last year when a record 254 children attended.
QUT Health Clinics began back-to-school free health checks in 2010, initially with podiatry. Over the years this has progressively built to the current offering of podiatry, optometry, nutrition and dietetics advice, and education and development assessments and workshops.
This is the 10th year of operation for QUT Health Clinics at Kelvin Grove, which provide free and low-cost healthcare services to the community, and quality clinical education and experience to the next generation of healthcare professionals.
Below are some back-to-school tips from clinic coordinators:
Optometry Clinic Coordinator – optometrist Dr Shelley Hopkins
Keeping a check on your child’s vision:
- Encourage regular breaks from screen time (and other near work). Ask your child to take a break and look up/away from their screen several times each hour.
- Spending more time outdoors may reduce the risk of short-sightedness developing and/or progressing.
- If your child shows any signs of eye strain, such as frontal headaches, tired eyes, doubling or blurring of vision, avoidance of near work, eye rubbing, consult an optometrist for a full eye examination.
Podiatry Clinic Coordinator – podiatrist Megan O’Donnell
Choosing a school shoe:
- Allow some room for a child’s growth: at least a thumb’s width in front of the big toe is a good size guide.
- Good quality shoes don’t have to be expensive – quality features can translate to any brand of footwear.
- To test a shoe’s stability and structure, hold shoe at the back of the heel and bend – it should not fold it half or collapse with light pressure. Put pressure at the front and back of the shoe – you should be able to bend it only at the big toe joint, so it mimics walking movement.
Foot hygiene and health, particularly in summer:
- Air shoes at the end of the day – take out insole, leave shoe and insole in warm area outside, but not in direct sunlight.
- Foot sprays, available in pharmacies, can kill off bacteria inside shoes.
- Use warm wash with laundering children’s socks, especially sports socks.
Nutrition and Dietetics Clinic Coordinator – accredited practising dietitian Andrea Cawte
Lunch box tips:
- Keep it cool – choose an insulated lunchbox and have an ice brick or block in there as well, particularly in summer.
- Keep it healthy – Do include: sandwiches, wraps, fruit, water; Don’t include: juice, sports drinks, flavoured milk, chips, lollies, sugary muesli bars or fruit bars.
- Keep it small – children are active and excited at lunchtime, so often won’t eat much. If they bring home uneaten lunch you may be packing too much. Keep lunch small and give them a healthy after-school afternoon tea snack, such as cheese and crackers, yoghurt and fruit, vegie sticks with dips, plain milk. Fruit juice is okay occasionally, but only in small servings – in a cup smaller than you’d use for water or plain milk
Psychology and Counselling Clinic Coordinator – psychologist Melissa Herdy
Managing students’ back-to-school transition from holidays:
- Establish a routine – routines reduce anxiety and make the school week predictable for children. Get to school early so that they are not rushing or missing class and provide firm plans for pickup arrangements.
- Ensure your child is getting enough sleep – preschoolers need 10-13 hours’ sleep; children (6-13 years) need 9-11 hours; teenagers need 8-10 hours.
- Preparedness – talk about what to expect, prepare books and stationery and try on uniforms before the first day back.
Managing worries/anxieties for school first-timers (Prep students):
- Model positivity – talk positively about starting school, read books together about starting school, model coping thoughts (by providing coping statements) and actions (what to do and who to see if they are worried).
- Listen to their concerns – assist them with problem solving, provide “go to” people within the school, such as the class teacher, support teacher, or link in with the school Guidance Counsellor if anxiety is high.
- Model how to make friends – e.g. join in, talking, sharing and taking turns – “Hi, my name is…”