Dr. Rachel: 7 things you should do for your kids this school year

NEW ORLEANS -- School is already in session for some New Orleans area students, and a lot more will go back next week.

Here are seven tips from our teaching doctor, Dr. Rachel, to make sure your kids get a healthy start to the new school year:

  • Make sure your child's backpack has wide, padded shoulder straps, and avoid single-strap bags. Teach your child the importance of wearing both straps on his or her shoulders. Using only one strap can lead to muscle strain.
  • Get your child to bed early. Kids between 3 and 5 years old need 10-13 hours of sleep per night. Children between 6 and 13 years old need nine-11 hours, while teenagers needs eight-10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Take your child to the doctor before the start of the school year to make sure his or her immunizations are up to date.
  • Smile! Although a trip to the dentist doesn't usually bring a smile to your kid's face, it's important to have his or her teeth cleaned and examined.
  • Get an eye exam for your child. You'd be surprised at the number of children who do poorly in school because they can't see the white board or chalkboard.
  • Spend quality time with your children at the dinner table every night. Turn off your cell phones, and eliminate all electronic devices from the dinner table. Talk to your kids about their day and what is happening in their lives.
  • The most important thing to do for your kids every day, according to Dr. Rachel, is to give them a BIG hug and tell them how much you love them.