Going back to school is a stressful time for parents; particularly when making sure your children have all of the supplies they need for their classes, as well as the best clothes and nutritious meals. One thing you should definitely address before your children get to the classroom is their health and wellness.
General wellness visit
The first wellness check the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends is a general checkup, often called a wellness visit or a well-child visit. The checkup’s focus changes from year to year as your child gets older, often including checks for developmental abnormalities, measuring the child’s height/weight and watching out for any problems that are common in your family. This visit should include the doctor checking your child’s psychological and behavioral development too, asking about school performance, friendships and socialization. At older ages, they will address adolescent issues like drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity and depression.
In addition to a general wellness visit, if your child plans to participate in sporting activities, the AAP says it is a good idea (and often also required by the school) to schedule a sports physical. These allow the doctor to address issues specific to high physical activity, such as rehabilitating any existing injuries, getting proper nutrition and choosing healthy training and exercise programs.
Immunization is important to preventing certain serious diseases in children, and is especially important in school, where many children meet in the same place. Thus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends particular vaccinations in children 4 to 6 years old and 11 to 12 years old. In addition, many schools require students to be up-to-date on their immunizations to enroll in the first place.
Children who can’t see properly are certain to have a harder time in school, and vision problems are easier to treat when detected early. In particular, The Children’s Clinic recommends vision checks for younger children, as some of the more serious eye problems like amblyopia can cause permanent vision damage by age 7 or 8.
These checks are especially important because, oftentimes, a child will not realize a problem exists. Kaiser Permanente’s Physician in Chief and Director of Audiology and Eye Care Philip Paros, OD, says, “Children may not complain of not being able to see clearly, which makes exams even more important.” He recommends watching for signs of vision problems, like recurring headaches while reading, sitting too close to the TV, squinting at distant objects or slipping behind in reading ability.
As with vision problems, hearing problems can easily cause a child to have difficulty in school. Also, if left untreated, issues can arise such as delayed speech, language acquisition or social-emotional and behavioral problems. With early treatment, though, The Children’s Clinic says children with hearing loss have significantly better developmental outcomes, allowing them to progress at an age-appropriate pace.
Scheduling these wellness checks before school begins can help prevent issues in both the short term and the long term, giving your child a much better chance at a happy, healthy life.
This article is presented by Colonial Volkswagen of Medford in Medford, Massachusetts.