My Blog - Children's Medical Center

After a long school year your child is probably excited to spend summer relaxing and free of school stress. But as parents, we want to make sure our children don’t fall behind and forget everything they learned throughout the year. So what can you do to help your child retain the skills they learned this year? Here is what parents need to know about summer slide and how reading can help minimize the risk of summer regression: 

What Is Summer Slide?


Summer slide is the term used to refer to the regression experienced by students during the summer. Most teachers expect students to return to school in the fall with some level of regression in reading and math skills. Teachers then have to make up for this regression during the new school year. It has long been estimated that students lose between 1 and 3 months-worth of school-year skills during the summer. The 2015 MAP Growth Norms Study found that between third and fourth grade, students lost about 20% of their reading and 27% of their math school-year gains. If those numbers sound concerning, you’ll be even more concerned about middle school. During the summer between seventh and eighth grade, students lost about 36% of their reading and 50% of their math school-year gains. Some research also suggests there is a connection between socioeconomic class, summer slide, and the achievement gap.

How Reading During The Summer Prevents Summer Slide


One of the best ways to prevent summer slide is to encourage your child to read regularly throughout the summer. During the summer, children should continue to read a minimum of 20 minutes every day. This is the same expectation they have during the school year. Some teachers and schools provide books to children at the end of the school year to help get them started. You should also help encourage your child to read throughout the summer. You can encourage kids by taking them to the library, reading together, and listening to audio books in the car. Your child may also be encouraged if they see you read regularly. You should also regularly discuss what your child likes and doesn’t like about the books they are reading. You can also ask them what they learned from the book. Doing this will help their review and comprehension skills. You could also have your child write a summary of the book or chapter they read to practice writing skills.

Annual Wellness Visits Are Important For A Successful School Year


Your child’s success in school directly impacts their overall growth and development. This is why their pediatrician discusses concerns about success in school during your child’s annual well-child visit. To schedule your child’s annual well-child exam with one of our board-certified pediatricians, contact Children’s Medical Center today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping your child prepare for their next school year! 

Summertime is also often physical time for children. Your child may need a physical before they return to school, to participate in a new sport or a new season of a sport, or to attend a summer camp. Many parents know they can go to a walk-in clinic or a pop-up event for these physicals. But you may not know why it is important to have your child’s physical completed by their own pediatrician. Here are the reasons your child’s physicals should always be done by their own pediatrician:

Physical Exams Done By Pediatricians Are More Thorough And Accurate


Children grow and change a lot in a years’ time. It is important for them to receive regular annual physical check-ups to ensure they are growing and developing appropriately. Annual physicals also allow you to address any existing concerns with their health and well-being. Recognizing the importance of routine physicals to your child’s overall health and safety, state laws require physicals for certain activities. Physicals must be completed before children can participate in activities such as sports, summer camps, and before entering certain grades. Sport and camp physicals ensure your child is healthy and strong enough to take part in required activities for their sport or camp. School physicals ensure your child is prepared for a healthy and successful school year. Because these physicals affect your child’s overall health care, it is important for their own pediatrician to do them. Your child’s pediatrician will complete a more thorough and accurate medical history review and physical examination.

Pediatricians Already Know Your Child’s Medical History


The first part of a physical involves a review of your child’s medical history. Your child’s pediatrician already has detailed records about your child and knows your child’s health history. This allows them to complete a more thorough and accurate review of your child’s medical history. Walk-in clinics and pop-up physical events will review only the areas required by the physical forms. But they will not know enough about your child to thoroughly discuss and address important underlying health and safety topics. They also cannot address medical history topics that you may have forgotten.

Your Child Will Be More Comfortable With Their Own Pediatrician


During the physical examination, expect your child’s pediatrician to check their:

  •          Height and weight
  •          Blood pressure and pulse
  •          Vision and hearing
  •          Heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose, and throat
  •          Posture, joints, strength, and flexibility

The physical exam will also include personal questions based on your child’s age, sex, and growth and development. For example, your daughter’s pediatrician may ask questions relating to her menstrual cycle. Having the physical completed by your child’s pediatrician ensures your child will be comfortable enough to answer personal questions that arise during the exam honestly.

Schedule Your Child’s School, Sports, or Camp Physical Today


To schedule your child’s next school, sports, or camp physical contact Children’s Medical Center and make an appointment with your child’s board-certified pediatrician today. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to helping your child prepare for their next school year or sports season! 

As parents we already have the life experience to understand the importance of good dental hygiene and routine dental care. Most adults have experienced the agony of a toothache or a cavity, or the shock of a tooth chipping at some point in their life. But parents often find it quite a struggle to encourage these same healthy dental habits in their children. Proper dental hygiene is extremely important in a child’s overall growth and development, even for baby teeth, as decayed or infected teeth can interfere with a child’s nutrition, speech development, and can even impact the child’s permanent teeth in the future.

While getting your child into a routine habit of taking care of their teeth can be difficult, there are a few things you can do to help make it easier. Here are a few tips to help get your kids started:

When Should A Child Start Brushing?


The easiest way to encourage and develop healthy hygiene habits in children is to start as young as possible. For dental hygiene, this means beginning to brush and care for teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. Pediatric dentists even recommend cleaning a baby’s gums after feedings, long before their first teeth appear. Parents will have to do this for their children at first but starting when your child is a baby helps establish healthy routines for their future.

Make Dental Care Fun For Your Child


Many children often try to avoid brushing their teeth and taking care of their dental hygiene. This isn’t because they are lazy or gross, they simply don’t find the task interesting or fun and they don’t have the life experience to understand the importance of it yet. Parents can help by making the experience fun and exciting for their children. Choose fun and colorful toothbrushes your child will like. If they are old enough to choose their own brush, let them. Use the time as an opportunity for your child to spend quality time and connect with you – turn brushing into a game or sing songs while your child is brushing. Finally, when it is time for your child to see a dentist choose one who specializes in pediatrics as they will try to make the experience more comfortable and fun for your child.

Using A Healthy Diet To Improve Dental Health


A healthy, well-balanced diet is important to your child’s dental health and their overall health and well-being. Foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and D, and calcium such as eggs, nuts, fish, green vegetables, beans, and poultry are important to a healthy diet. These days, many processed foods are high in sugar, starch, and carbohydrates, which can all be harmful to teeth. An unhealthy diet speeds up tooth decay and increases other issues with dental health. Try to avoid foods high in sugary, and especially pay close attention to the amount of sugar in juices and drinks.

Schedule Your Well-Child Visit Today


Your child’s pediatrician will also check their teeth for any signs of concern during their well-child visits and will let you know when it is time to see a dentist. Contact Children’s Medical Center to schedule your child’s well-child visit with one of our board-certified pediatric doctors. We have four convenient office locations in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz. We also have extended hours and are open 7 days a week! We look forward to meeting you and your child soon! 

Hand washing is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves from the spread of germs and illnesses surrounding us every day. As parents, we want to encourage our children to develop healthy hygienic practices, but it is often difficult for children to understand the importance of hand washing. However, with consistency and practice you can teach your children to make proper hand washing become a habit they will carry with them throughout their life. Here are a few tips that will help parents encourage healthy hand washing practices:

Explain Why Hand Washing Is Important


Children are naturally curious and love to ask “why”. This curiosity is what they use to learn life-long habits and behaviors and how to tackle the world around them. The good news is that there is a simple explanation you can provide to answer “why” hand washing is so important. You should remember to handle the question with care and answer in an age-appropriate manner that will explain hand washing helps prevent the spread of germs without scaring your child.

Lead By Example


Leading our children by example is often one of the best ways to get them to make something a habit. If your children see you washing your hands on a regular basis, they are more likely to want to pick up the routine too. Try to incorporate regular hand washing into different parts of your daily routine – for example, wash your hands as soon as you get home, before and after meals, and after playing with pets.

Make Hand Washing Fun And Exciting


Hand washing can seem like a mundane and boring task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make the experience fun and exciting for children by investing in fun liquid hand soap, a steep stool that will make it easier for them to reach the sink, and their own personal hand drying towel. To encourage your children to wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs – at least 20 seconds – make it fun by using that time to sing a song, dance, or count out loud. Finally, make sure you end the experience by offering your child praise or a reward. A reward for a child doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, often a sticker or a high-five is enough to satisfy a child. Children love receiving praise, especially from their parents, so this can be an important step in making healthy hand washing practices a routine.

What To Do If Your Child Gets Sick


Even with the best hygienic practices, everyone still gets sick on occasion. Everyone in the family should continue to wash their hands routinely to prevent the spread of illness to other family members. If your child does come down with symptoms of an illness, contact their primary care provider at Children’s Medical Center to schedule a sick visit. We will do our best to get your child seen as soon as possible. 

By Children's Medical Center
May 14, 2019
Category: Child Care
Tags: Sugar Effects  

Kids of all ages love to drink popular drinks that their peers enjoy, including sugary drinks like sodas and artificially sweetened juices. As these types of drinks have grown in popularity, so has the quantity per serving as well as the variety available to consumers. Because of these factors, increased consumption of sugary drinks by children has resulted in a number of rising health issues. Here’s a look at a few of the effects of sugary drinks for children and a few tips on helping your child reduce or eliminate unhealthy drink choices.


Health Effects of Sugary Drinks


One of the most worrisome effects of sugary drinks for children is the increase in obesity rates. Studies have shown that children who consume as little as one cup (8 oz) of sugary drinks per day gained more weight and body fat than their counterparts who drank artificially sweetened drinks instead. [1] As a result of the increase in body weight and body fat storage, there has been an increase in childhood Type 2 Diabetes. In fact, some of the fat that is stored inside the body and around the internal organs may not be noticeable from the outside. Even a healthy looking child who consumes an excess of sugary drinks can be laying the groundwork for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.


In addition to the major health effects outlined above, sugary drinks for children can have a major impact on dental health. Studies have shown that consumption of sugary drinks can cause early development of childhood cavities and early loss of baby teeth.[2] These two issues alone should cause parents to pause and think about their children’s consumption of sugary drinks. In turn, cavities can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor habits, such as choices in drink choices, are often carried over into adulthood, leading to further issues in dental health.


Last but certainly not least is the lack of nutrition in sugary drinks for Soda literally contains zero nutrients. It also suppresses the appetite so kids are less likely to eat wholesome, nourishing foods, turning instead to junk food snacks. Sugary drink consumers are also less likely to get the recommended daily levels of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients. Phosphorus, a very common ingredient in sodas, can actually cause depletion of calcium in the bones. In fact, girls who drink more soda are more prone to broken bones.


In addition, caffeine can cause a real, physical addiction. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal gland to excess and can lead to adrenal exhaustion in children. Withdrawals from high levels of caffeine can result in symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, headaches, nausea, drowsiness and depression.[5]


Advice for Parents on Reducing Sugary Drinks for Children


The best way to help reduce the amount of sugary drinks your child consumes is to lead by example. Studies show that the amount of sugary drinks that a parent consumes directly affects the amount of sugary drinks the child consumes, regardless of how much they know about the health risks associated with these types of drinks. [6] This is not to say that the health risks should be ignored or downplayed. It is very important, of course, that both child and parent are educated about the risks that ongoing, excessive consumption of sugary drinks can have on children.


The next step is to teach children how to make good choices. Just telling them not to drink sugary drinks is not enough. Parents need to prove alternatives that will be both appealing and healthy for the child. Parents should provide drinks with less refined sugar, like 100% fruit juices (4 ounces or less per day). Teach them to avoid carbonated drinks as well as popular energy drinks that include large amounts of caffeine. Low-fat milk is a great alternative to soft drinks. It provides vitamins A & B, calcium, magnesium and protein; all things your child's body needs to grow. Of course, our preferred and highly recommended choice is bottled water.  It may not be as appealing to your child, but it will help prevent dehydration, dry skin and acne.


Another alternative is to offer fresh fruits and vegetables instead of sweet drinks. Juice in itself is not a requirement for a healthy and nutritious diet for children. Encouraging them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of drinking juice will:


  • supply fiber that will aid in proper digestion
  • provide a healthy and nourishing option for snacks
  • help to establish better eating and drinking habits


If you do include juice in your child’s diet, try to limit it to 1/2 cup of no-added-sugar juice, and even then only occasionally. Encourage your child to eat the whole fruit or vegetables, and drink bottled water or milk rather than juice.


If you’re still looking for more information on the effects of sugary drinks for children and how to help establish a healthy and nutritious diet, take a moment to check out our newsletters.





  1. Ruyter JC, Katan MB, et al. A trial of sugar-free or sugar-sweetened beverages and body weight in children. N Engl J Med. 2012; 367:1397-406.
  2. Lim S, Tellez M, et al. Estimating a Dynamic Effect of Soda Intake on Pediatric Dental Caries Using Targeted Maximum Likelihood Estimation Method. Caries Res. 2019 Mar 19:1-9. doi: 10.1159/000497359.
  3. Ziegler AM, Temple JL.Soda Consumption is Associated with Risk-Taking Behaviors in Adolescents. Am J Health Behav. 2015 Nov;39(6):761-71. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.39.6.3.
  4. Ditmar MF. Behavior and development. In: Polin RA, Ditmar MF, eds. Pediatric Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 2.
  5. Kaplowitz GJ. An update on the dangers of soda pop.Dent Assist. 2011 Jul-Aug;80(4):14-6, 18-20, 22-3 passim; quiz 29-31.
  6. Lundeen EA, Park S, et al. Adolescent Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake is Associated With Parent Intake, Not Knowledge of Health Risks. Am J Health Promot. 2018 Nov;32(8):1661-1670. doi: 10.1177/0890117118763008.

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