• By Cynthia Weiss

Getting that back-to-school health check and physical

August 3, 2018

Before the start of the school year, many kids get back-to-school physical exams. Dr. Tina Ardon, a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic, says yearly visits to your health care provider ensure your child is healthy and ready to learn.

“It’s important to check your child’s height and weight, and their development at least annually to make sure they are growing appropriately for their age,” says Dr. Ardon.

Doing so in the fall is valuable, especially if your provider notices any developmental delays, where you can intervene early. “Identifying areas that may impact your child’s ability to learn and grow can help ensure they have access to, and receive, appropriate services at school,” she notes.

Also, checking your child’s vision and hearing before he or she heads back to school is equally important, says Dr. Ardon.

“Anytime your child is having any symptoms that make us worried about their vision and hearing is always a good time to think about testing," says Dr. Ardo. "But because some visual changes can happen before they experience all these symptoms, my personal rule of thumb is to get their eyes checked at least once a year. And now is an ideal time because we want to make sure we address any issues before they get back into school, so they can do well in their classes.”

Watch: Dr. Tina Ardon discusses back-to school routines and health checks, including physicals.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Ardon are in the downloads.

Back-to-school exams are also valuable if your child will play sports. Dr. Ardon recommends baseline concussion testing, especially for older children. “We want to identify any potential issues that could limit your child’s participation in athletics,” she says.

Other benefits of back-to-school exams include updating vaccinations.

Typically, says Dr. Ardon, most children require a specific set of vaccines before they enter kindergarten, first grade and then again around the seventh grade.

Dr. Ardon says a physical also can be valuable to discuss any other concerns, such as anxiety or sleep issues.

“Sometimes it can be tough to tell what’s bothering your child, such as anxiety with school, or [what may be] a stomach bug or a viral illness. It’s important to be able to talk about your child’s symptoms and make sure they’re not a clue to something else that needs to be addressed.”

Back to school is an exciting time. “Getting a physical is a great way to make sure your child is healthy and ready for the new school year,” says Dr. Ardon.