School preparation: more than supplies
Now that the scrambling to buy new clothing and school supplies has come and gone, there may be more to do to ensure our children’s successful learning. Promoting health during the first few weeks of school and making sure our children can see and hear what is being taught should not be overlooked.
The implications of hearing and vision impairments have direct academic and social effects. Academic effects include delays in development, reading, spelling, math and problem solving. Unaddressed, these impairments may lend to lower scores on achievement and verbal tests.
Social effects of hearing and vision impairments may lend to difficulty and comfort levels of participating in group activities, delayed social maturity and confusion. Sometimes, children may become isolated and show signs of helplessness.
Like clockwork, shortly after school has begun many children become ill. Unfortunately, schools and classrooms often become a breeding ground for organisms that cause the common cold, sore throat, pink eye, ear infections, the flu and strep throat. Yep, it’s a cacophony of bacteria and viruses. However, by being proactive, many of these ailments can be mitigated.
Be aware that your children’s sleep habits may have changed, their anxiety levels may be bouncing all over and their diet may have changed — all of which may cause their immune system to falter. By making sure they get plenty of sleep and exercise and eat healthy food, in addition to washing their hands and keeping their hands off their faces, you may be able to help them fend off sick days.
About 1 in 4 school-aged children suffers from an undetected or untreated vision problem, according to the American Optometric Association and supported by a broad and comprehensive group of educators and health care providers that include the American Academy of Optometry, National Head Start Association, American Public Health Association and the National Association of School Nurses.
Because 80 percent of all learning during a child’s first 12 years of life is obtained through vision and approximately 60 percent of students identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems, paying attention to eye health may be worth your time and attention.
Complaints of eyestrain, headaches or squinting when reading; swollen or red eyes; and persistent floaters could indicate eye or vision problems. While many schools provide eye exams in kindergarten, first, third and fifth grades, parents should be alert to vision complaints and signs of concern. A school vision screening or a pediatrician’s test may not be a substitute for a comprehensive eye examination from an eye doctor. When vision isn’t working properly, learning and activities suffer as a result.
Hearing loss affects health and quality of life. Many children suffer hearing loss due to infections, disease or congenital (before birth) hearing issues. There are four different types of hearing loss:
• Conductive — hearing loss resulting from disorders of the outer and/or middle ear, such as ear infections or abnormal ear structures.
• Sensorineural — hearing loss resulting from disorders of the inner ear or the eighth cranial nerve that carries the auditory signals to the brain, such as resulting from meningitis, noise exposure, or problems at birth.
• Mixed — a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
• Central — results from disorders of the central auditory nervous system, such as auditory-processing disorders. This type of hearing loss may not be identified through school hearing screening programs. An audiologist using very specialized tests diagnoses this type of hearing problem.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, significantly better language development is associated with early identification of hearing loss and early intervention.
Be proactive and pay attention to some of these concerns.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.
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