With only a few weeks left in the summer, parents will be flooding the shopping aisles to start stocking up on school supplies and other essentials in preparation for sending their kids off to school once again.

One thing they may not think about, though, is preparing their kids for a healthy school year — one with no sick days or trips to the nurse’s office. Kids will be kids, and some things you just can’t avoid, but there are steps you can take to help ensure your child is healthier this school year.

1. Schedule a checkup with your health care provider.

Your child’s doctor can catch potential health problems early and treat them.

If your child is interested in school sports, get them a physical exam before tryouts so your doctor can diagnose potential problems that may worsen with exercise.

The school will probably want up-to-date medical records for your child, anyway — so now is the best time to get your hands on those.

2. Vaccinate your children.

Vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to build up immunity to diseases and have little to no side effects. Talk to your child’s doctor about what vaccines they should get based on their age.

3. Teach your kids proper hand-washing etiquette.

The golden rule of hand washing is to scrub with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Here’s a tip: have them sing their ABCs twice as they wash; that equals about 20 seconds.

Make sure they know they should always wash their hands before eating, after using the restroom and after playing.

Show your kids how to sneeze and cough into their elbow to keep respiratory droplets from spraying into the air and spreading any germs they might be carrying.

4. Find the right backpack.

Overweight backpacks can lead to bad posture or back injuries over time. A child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10-20% of their body weight.

Look for wide straps and a padded back — or consider a backpack on wheels to take the weight off completely.

Lubna Maruf, M.D., medical director at QualChoice Health Insurance, is a graduate of Aga Khan Medical University in Pakistan and completed her residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over 20 years of experience in internal medicine and health care administration