ABCs of the Back-to-School Checkup

ABCs of the Back-to-School Checkup

Give your child or teen a healthy start in the new school year. The weeks before school resumes is the perfect time for an annual checkup.

It’s time for reading, writing, ‘rithmetic … and your child’s annual physical.

Summer is the time to make sure children and teens are up to date on required immunizations before school starts. Some kids may also need a sports physical if they plan to try out for any teams. And it’s also a good time to ask your pediatrician about setting up a school emergency plan if your child has asthma, a food allergy or another chronic condition.

The routine

During your office visit, your doctor can perform a physical exam and:

  • Evaluate your child’s growth and development, including height, weight and body mass index.
  • Make sure your child’s immunizations are up to date.
  • Ask about any health problems or injuries that your child has had since the last visit.
  • Review medications your child is taking.
  • Check blood pressure.
  • Ask about family history and order any related lab tests.
  • Test for hearing or vision problems.
  • Screen for or monitor behavioral or emotional issues, such as depression or attention deficit disorder.
  • Discuss concerns related to your child’s age, such as changes of puberty or the dangers of drugs.
  • Provide preventive care. This might include guidance if a child is overweight or sexually active.

Special concerns

Come prepared to ask your doctor about any special concerns related to your child’s health.

  • If your child plans to get involved with school sports, bring any permission forms from your school that your doctor needs to sign. Ask the doctor about any safety gear your child should have for the sport or precautions that should be taken.
  • If you think your child may have a learning disability, ask your doctor about testing or referral to another specialist. Having this information can help your school provide for your child’s needs.
  • If your child has a chronic condition like asthma or diabetes, you and your doctor will need to prepare an action plan for the school in case a medical emergency arises.

In case of emergency

If your child has a health condition that requires special care or medication during the school day, arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher or school nurse.

At the meeting, you can discuss the services your child may need, along with any precautions that need to be taken. You’ll want to provide information about:

  • Your child’s medical history
  • Medicine or procedures required during the school day
  • Any diet restrictions
  • Possible triggers or problems
  • Name of your child’s doctor and phone number
  • Emergency action plan
  • How to contact you in an emergency

Your school will probably want medical instructions in writing from your child’s doctor. You may also need to sign a release form to give the school permission to contact the doctor. And the doctor will need your written permission to discuss your child’s condition with school staff.

To your child’s health

All kids need regular physicals to monitor any changes and screen for common problems. If your child doesn’t get a checkup before school starts, be sure to make an appointment for another time.

Don’t wait to see a doctor till your child becomes ill. Prevention trumps treatment when it comes to health.

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