Are your kids heading back to school? Here's a checklist to help them prepare for a healthy year.
Whether your child is going to school in person or sticking to a virtual schedule, one of the most important boxes to check off the back-to-school checklist is a visit with the doctor.
“Annual visits are a great opportunity to have a non-intimidating—and dare I say, fun—visit with your child’s doctor,” said Ashley Schmieding, MD, a PeaceHealth pediatrician in Eugene, Oregon.
Physical health and mental well-being
During a well-child check, doctors will note a child's growth and development, based on what’s typical or expected for their age while taking into account the child’s personal or family history.
“Annual visits allow us to ensure your child is on a path to a healthy and happy life,” she said. “We also want to work together with parents to identify any issues of concern and develop a plan to address them moving forward.”
“Of equal importance, however, is that well-visits are a fantastic opportunity to inspire little ones to become more comfortable with their doctor and the clinic environment,” Dr. Schmieding noted, “It also allows teens to have one-on-one time with a trusted, knowledgeable and instrumental adult during a very important time in their lives.”
One important aspect of the annual visit is to ensure a child’s immunizations are up to date. Vaccinations not only reduce the risk of serious illnesses but also save lives. (Read the FAQ about immunizations.)
Vaccinations aren’t only for babies or the very young. As children get older, they will continue to need additional immunizations and booster shots even through adulthood.
One of the new vaccines this year is, of course, for COVID-19. Children age 12 and older are now eligible for this vaccination, which will help protect them against the virus and reduce its spread in our communities. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines.
In addition to having their overall physical and mental health checked, kids should also have the following special exams on a regular basis:
- Hearing tests.
- Vision exams.
- Dental checkups.
- For young girls who are going or have gone through puberty, chat with your provider about whether or when they should begin seeing a specialist.
Download the checkup checklist for children.
More tips for a healthy start
Here are a few other tips to help you and your kiddo get a new school year off to a healthy start:
- Ease into a fall bedtime schedule. Good sleep is essential.
- Know the safety tips for backpack use. Note the fit and keep the weight manageable.
- Plan lunches and snacks. Aim for well-balanced nourishing meals.
- Reduce anxiety and manage stress. Keep the lines of communication open to talk about what’s on your child’s mind.
Schedule your child’s visit
If your child is due for his or her annual checkup or screenings, you can schedule any virtual or in-person appointments needed by: