Back-to-school time is the best time to check up on your child’s health

A lot can change for a child’s health, well-being and development during a school year. Summer break is a good reminder to schedule a well child checkup.

Getting ready to go back to school is a busy time for all families, no matter what grade their child is entering. Despite everything else on parents’ to-do lists, it’s important to check up on your child’s health and prioritize scheduling your child’s annual comprehensive wellness exam, also known as a “well child checkup.”

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A lot can change for a child’s health, well-being and development during a school year, and summer break is a good reminder to return to your child’s pediatrician. In light of the challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important for the child’s provider to get an overall picture of their physical, social and emotional health.

Here are some of the reasons why back-to-school season is the best time for a well child checkup.

Why schedule your child’s yearly well child checkup before school starts?

Balancing school, home life, friends, sports and extracurricular activities is not easy for kids, no matter their age. The adolescent years often involve rapid physical and emotional development, and an annual wellness visit offers you and your child an opportunity to check in and check up on their overall health before tackling the new school year. There are more reasons to schedule a yearly back-to-school checkup:

  • It may be required. You may be required to provide proof of immunizations and a physical, as well as eye and dental exams, based on requirements determined by the state you live in or the school your child will attend. There may be different requirements based on the grade your child is entering. These visit requirements may differ from a sports physical, which also may be required for a child to participate in sports. Make sure to check the guidelines and requirements for your child’s school.
  • Get a snapshot of where your child is with their health. Getting a well child checkup before school starts can allow your child’s pediatrician to thoroughly assess where your child is with physical and mental development and check for any concerns. Getting yearly checkups also helps children build trust with their provider. That way, when they experience a challenge, they can feel safe being open and honest about their health and well-being. This is important, as a child’s annual exam may also include a psychological and behavioral assessment, depending on the child’s age.
  • Complete a sports physical, if needed. For children who participate in sports or many extracurricular activities, their school will require a yearly sports physical before they can be cleared to participate. Your child’s pediatrician can complete this type of exam during the visit. The child also can talk to the pediatrician about sports-specific issues, including nutrition, exercise and training. Your child’s pediatrician may ask about injuries and rest.
  • Any needed immunizations
  • Blood pressure and heart rate screening
  • Cholesterol and blood sugar readings
  • Fine and gross motor skills assessment
  • Height and weight/body mass index (BMI) screening
  • Physical examination, including eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, heartbeat, etc.
  • Reflexes check
  • Vision/hearing screening
  • Scoliosis screening
  • Psychological and behavioral questions
    • Your child may be asked questions such as, “Can you tell me about a friend you have at school?” and “How are you doing in school?”
    • With teens, pediatricians also may cover topics such as drinking, smoking, drugs, being sexually active and depression.
  • Safety checks
    • Your pediatrician may talk to you about preventing injuries: wearing bike helmets, seat belts and other safety measures.

A well child checkup also may include:

School and sports physicals on your schedule

Norton Children’s Medical Group offers convenient options for your child’s back-to-school wellness checkup and sports physicals. This annual physical is an important part of the back-to-school checklist. Same and next-day appointments are often available.

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