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Add a few more healthy steps to your back-to-school check-lists this year.

Get up to date on vaccines

A healthy school sets students up for success. Vaccines are very important for maintaining a health school environment. Vaccines not only protect students from getting and spreading certain diseases, but they can also protect against serious illness. Illinois state law requires certain immunizations for children and adults enrolled in childcare, school, or college.

Get your infant, toddler or school-age student vaccinated today!

  • COVID-19: Updated vaccines are available from Moderna and Pfizer, and are recommended for everyone over 6 months old. Get detailed vaccination guidelines for babies, young children and kids 5 and older and find a city vaccination site nearest you.
  • RSV: Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. The CDC recommends a medication called nirsevimab for infants up to 19 months to act as an extra layer of protection against RSV. Your pediatrician can administer this vaccine.
  • Influenza: Free, updated flu vaccines are now available at your local pharmacy. Vaccines are recommended for everyone over 6 months old.
  • Check out the full childhood vaccine schedule from the CDC:

Get a back to school physical

In Illinois, students entering kindergarten (or first grade if not previously enrolled in kindergarten), sixth grade, and ninth grade at any Illinois public or private school (including charter schools) must provide proof of physical examination using an approved form.

If your student needs a physical this year, call your provider to schedule an appointment. If you need help finding care, use our resource finder to find a primary care provider or visit to find a federally qualified health center.

Don’t forget about your back-to-school forms

Each school year your school will ask you to provide updated information about your student.

  • Make sure to let your school know about any changes to your emergency contact information.
  • Each school has their own forms. Contact your child’s school if you do not have the forms you need.
  • All medical forms for Chicago Public Schools can be found at

Help your kids cope with back-to-school stress

Young child with big backpack, holding adult's hand

A new CDPH survey found Chicago parents are very worried about how stress affects their kids’ health. Changes in routine and the uncertainties that come with a new school year can cause extra stress for students.

Parents can support their kids by:

  • Helping them identify and name their feelings. Kids don’t always know what they’re feeling or why they’re feeling it — they just feel BAD. These Catch, Check and Change Your Thoughts videos give kids the vocabulary for their stress.
  • Teaching them healthy ways to manage or reduce stress. These include keeping a journal, exercising and sticking to a sleep routine.
  • Seeking professional help. Parents don’t have all the answers! If you or your kids could benefit from more support, ask your doctor for a mental health referral.

Pick a good backpack

Young child with big backpack, holding adult's hand

Set your student up for success on the first day!

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Organize your child's backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
  • The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child's body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light.
  • Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
  • Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child's waist.

Find more of these back-to-school tips at

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Make sure the school has your updated contact information!

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Jump start your college saving for free! The new Illinois First Steps Program will provide a $50 seed deposit into your child’s 529 college savings account to get started.

Quick Guide

Set a healthy routine

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Keep to a regular daily routine

The same waking time, meal times, nap time, and play times will help your child feel secure and comfortable, and help with a smooth bedtime. For young children, it helps to start early with a bedtime routine such as brush, book, bed.

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Monitor screen time
  • The AAP recommends keeping all screens—TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, and phones out of children's bedrooms, especially at night. To prevent sleep disruption, turn off all screens at least 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Create a Family Media Use Plan and set boundaries about use before bedtime
Set a bedtime routine before school starts
  • Don’t wait to the first day of school when making changes to routines.
  • Children at different ages may require different amounts of sleep. Visit to find out how many hours of sleep your child needs.

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Learn more with these breastfeeding FAQs from KidsHealth.

Think about healthy food options all day

Make time for breakfast! As back to school routines come together don’t forget to include some time for breakfast. Starting the day with a well-balanced breakfast supports learning.

  • Some schools like Chicago Public Schools offer breakfast to all their students. Check out to learn what's for breakfast.
  • Also, think about making a grab and go breakfast the night before.
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think about stocking HEALTHY SNACKS
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use snack time to increase fruit and vegetable intake for your healthy learner
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don't forget to pack a WATER BOTTLE for healthy hydration

Keep kids safe before and after school, too

Young child with big backpack, holding adult's hand

Students need to stay safely occupied while parents are working. Chicago offers a variety of free and low-cost programs where kids can learn, play and hang out before and after classes.

Stay healthy all year round

  • Stay home when you are sick to prevent others from getting sick.
  • Teach your student to practice good hand hygiene.

Stay connected with your student

Prioritize time together to stay connected with your student during the school year.

  • Consider making a dinner routine. You can sit down for a meal together, learn to make a new recipe or talk about your day.
  • Create memories together on the weekends.
    • The Chicago Public Library’s museum passes are now digital and expanded across Illinois! New attractions include a wide range of museums, historical societies, zoos and more. This pass program is accessible online 24/7, with no need to visit a CPL location to check out or return a pass. Visit to learn more.
    • Check out MyChiMyFuture for a list of events happening around Chicago

Even as your students get older, connectedness is vital.

  • How connected children feel to school and family can strongly influence their lives and continues well into adulthood.
  • Learn more about connecting to your adolescent at



Additional Reading

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Feeding Infants

Learn about typical feeding routines and get tips for breastfeeding and using formula.

READ MORE   internal link icon

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Insurance Support

Learn about health insurance with Get Covered Illinois and find a provider near you.

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CPS School Meals & Nutrition

Chicago Public Schools offers nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snacks to all students.

LEARN MORE    link icon