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Back to school: Immunizations, sleep routines and tips on creating healthy lunches

Students head back to school soon, so here are some tips on getting your kids well-rested and well-fed.
Credit: Thinkstock
Backpack and school supplies: books, notepad, felt-tip pens, scissors on brown wooden table

There are a limited number of days until students are back in classrooms around the country.

Around Tampa Bay, kids go back to school starting Aug. 10 for Hillsborough County and Aug. 13 for Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Sarasota and Manatee counties.

And for those of you already looking to the end of class, there are about 285-295 days until the last day of school.

Related: Hillsborough schools superintendent says district is hiring 210 officers for school security

More: Legoland offers free parking for August, asks guests to donate school supplies instead

With the back to school season comes the push to get up-to-date on the proper immunizations and changes in eating and sleeping schedules.

Students are required to get new vaccinations every year, but certain age groups require updates as they move through daycare, preschool, kindergarten and seventh grade.

Vaccines for school include those for chickenpox, Hepatitis B and measles-mumps-rubella. Here are a few more you may not know about.

Related: Tampa Bay area schools still looking to hire bus drivers

Along with the stress of back to school shopping and coordinating work-school schedules comes the yearly struggle to get students back into a healthy sleep routine.

After months of late summer nights and sleeping in, adjusting to getting up early again can be a chore.

The National Sleep Foundation said just 25 minutes of less sleep per night can lead to lower grades and concentration problems. The foundation also has three tips to help kids adjust to a new sleep schedule.

-- Gradually adjust bedtimes: Don’t start the night before school starts. Try making the adjustments a week or two before.

-- Create a nighttime routine: Implement calming activities like reading to help kids wind down before going to bed.

-- Take tech out of the bedroom: Electronics like laptops, tablets and cell phones can lead to poor sleep. Try making a rule that devices have to be turned off an hour before bedtime.

Back to school season means sleepy kids and also hungry kids. Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health put out a handy guide to making sure healthy lunches aren’t an afterthought.

The school even created a Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate graphic showing how much water, dairy, healthy oils, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and healthy protein are needed for school-age children.

The plate graphic and the overall guide both emphasize variety and quality when choosing food for a student’s lunchbox.

Find the full guide and lists of meal prep tips and snack ideas here.

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