All across Kentucky, children and families are getting ready to go back to school. If your children haven’t gone back to school as yet – and even if they have – it’s time to ask an important question: Did they get a back-to-school physical?
If you answered YES, congratulations! You’ve taken a big step in helping ensure your child does well in school.
If you answered NO, don’t despair. It’s not too late to schedule that back-to-school physical.
Is a back-to-school physical required?
Yes, for some children, but not for all! If your child is starting kindergarten or entering sixth grade this year, they need a physical. But for kids in other grades who are up-to-date on immunizations (and aren’t playing school-sponsored sports), there is no state requirement. But if you want your child to have a healthy, happy, successful school year, then an annual physical is strongly recommended.
Research shows that healthy children do better in school: they retain more knowledge, display better behavior, pay more attention, think more critically and get along well with others. Their attendance is more consistent, which supports better performance in class and social relationships.
Research also tells us that children who miss a lot of school or who come to school ill, hurting or hungry perform at lower levels than their healthy peers. They struggle to keep up and are at a disadvantage, not only in school but throughout life.
What happens during the physical?
The annual physical is pretty routine, meaning that the pediatrician will usually:
• Record the child’s height and weight and compare it to others in the same age group
• Take blood pressure and pulse readings
• Test the child’s vision, and if indicated, hearing
• Listen to the child’s heart, lungs, abdomen, ear, nose and throat
• Evaluate the child’s gait, posture, joints, strength and flexibility