Back to School: Physicals for Kids


Back to School: Physicals for Kids

Though they may be more excited about attending new classes and seeing their friends after the summer break apart, one thing that shouldn’t be neglected when preparing for a new school year is your student’s health.

To set them up for success you’ll want them to be physically and mentally at their best. This can be achieved by a routine back-to-school physical examination.

In this post, we’ll explore the importance of these exams; what to expect when you take your child to the exam; how they should prepare for the exam and where they can go locally to get one.

Back to School Time

Between enjoying those late summer family trips and gathering supplies for the new academic year, a simple school physical can easily get lost in the shuffle. If your child is healthy and showing no signs of medical issues, is it even worth it to take them in for an appointment? The answer is an emphatic “yes.”

Aside from certain athletic and extracurricular activity participation requirements, there are now laws in effect in our state that involve getting your children immunized. It’s not just a case of “better to be safe than sorry,” it’s maintaining the general wellness of your child.

Why it’s Important to Get a Physical

As stated above, there have been recent changes in Washington State laws, so some academic institutions require immunizations for admission. In addition to that, for your child to be prepared to learn and participate fully in school, your medical professional will need to ensure their vision and their hearing aren’t experiencing any impairment. Furthermore, an annual check-in gives doctors a consistent view of your child’s growth year-over-year, so they can monitor progress and anticipate areas of concern before potential issues develop.

The back-to-school exam is also an ideal time to alert doctors to any mental health issues your child may be suffering from, such as anxiety or depression, so they can plan treatment accordingly.

What to Expect at a Physical

Basically, a school physical, also known as a child wellness exam, is a comprehensive annual evaluation of the child’s health based on their medical history and their current state of being.

After weight and height are recorded, a traditional back to school exam may include tests or screenings of any or all of the following:

  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Reflexes
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Lungs/breathing
  • Stress

The staff may need to do a blood draw for certain laboratory tests and administer a shot for vaccinations.

Depending on the child’s age, there may also be discussions between the doctors, parent(s) and child regarding:

  • Diet and nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Puberty
  • Learning development
  • Sexual health
  • Mental health
  • Safety issues (i.e. car seats for young children, etc.)

How to Prep for a Physical

Prior to your child’s appointment, gather their medical history and your family history to provide the most comprehensive background for the doctor to review. Don’t forget to include any injuries (even the most minor) that the child has sustained, and note any changes in their behaviors or health since the last time they had an exam. In addition, be sure to bring your insurance card and any co-pay you may owe for the exam, or if you’re uninsured, payment for the visit.

It’s also good to talk with your child about the types of things the doctor will cover with them and prepare them for anything that could be frightening (such as shots).

If your child needs a specific sports exam for athletic purposes, they may also be subject to tests of posture, flexibility, strength and joints.

Consult with a Doctor

For additional information on physicals for kids, the Western Washington Medical Group Family Practice can help. Scheduling well in advance of the start of the school year will ensure you the best choice of appointment availability. Go to their page to schedule the appointment for an exam, or if it’s more convenient, visit one of our Walk-in Clinics, which are listed here. For more general medical inquiries, complete the form on this page.