Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Ages & Stages

Back to School, Back to the Doctor

Back to School, Back to the Doctor Back to School, Back to the Doctor

No matter what grade your child is about to enter, there's always a back-to-school checklist of to-dos.

It's a good idea to add a visit to your family's pediatrician for an annual wellness exam and sports physical to that list.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advocates that every child and youth receive care through a family-centered medical home.

Within the medical home, care is provided continuously over a long period of time so that as your child ages and develops, his or her care is never interrupted. Adolescence, for example, is a time when vital changes are taking place; seeing the pediatrician is important during the transition into puberty.

Build your child's medical history.

When you have a long-term history with your pediatrician, it allow him or her to the opportunity to follow your child's progress and development over time. This helps detect emerging problems, as well as stay informed on any new details of the patient's history―like past illnesses or injuries and immunization records.

A school entry form will generally include a check box asking whether all vaccinations are up-to-date, requiring you to remember whether or not they are. Your pediatrician will have accurate records to assist you in filling out these forms.

Get your child a thorough exam.

Back-to-school check-ups, as they are commonly called, are often the only visit kids and teenagers have with their pediatrician every year. The annual physical gives the pediatrician a chance to give the child a thorough physical exam that also addresses any emotional, developmental, or social concerns. 


In addition to monitoring heart and blood pressure and testing for diabetes, pediatricians use this annual visit to discuss dietexercise options, provide pediatric vision screenings, and testing for cholesterol and anemia

It's also a good chance to address important questions or concerns you have as a parent, especially with teenagers, including adolescent issues of substance use such as drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual activity, and depression.

The AAP recommends completing your child's health history form before your annual wellness exam. (Available in English or Spanish)  

Answer the questions honestly and thoroughly, especially the family history and heart-related questions, to help your pediatrician give the best advice and recommendations for many conditions.

Check if it's safe to participate in extra-curricular activities.

The AAP encourages all children to get annual sports physical whether or not one is required for them to participate on a team or extracurricular activity―ideally scheduled at the same time as the annual wellness exam.

The sports physical is an opportunity to address exercise-specific issues, including injuries, nutrition, training and exercise programs, and even attitudes toward sports participation in the course of the exam.

Your pediatrician can also advise your child if he or she is already involved in an exercise and training program. Overuse and overtraining injuries continue to be huge problems among young people.

If you already have a medical eligibility form from your child's sport or activity, bring it with to your annual wellness exam. 

Most organizations send forms home for athletes before the season begins. If you don't have a medical eligibility form, you may be able to use this one. Check with the governing body of your child's sport or activity.  

Get help figuring out how to balance it all.

Pediatricians also care about your health, because you can't have a healthy child without a healthy parent. 

If you are struggling with things like making ends meet, navigating special education services at school, finding local extracurriculars or general community support, or frankly a referral for your own care―talk with your pediatrician. 

Parenting is hard work; this is even more reason to set aside one day a year for you and your child to see the pediatrician.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright @ 2019)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us