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HomeArticlesReady for School?

Ready for School?

It is almost that time of year again. Before you know it, your child is ready to enter their first year of school. Along with the lengthy checklist of back-to-school items, don’t forget a crucial element to the success of your child: Their well visit with their pediatrician.

The importance of visiting the pediatrician before school starts

Your pediatrician can help your family promote school readiness. Per the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the physical, social, language and emotional development are all crucial components to help your child transition to school. Even if your child is not sick, scheduled well visits with your pediatrician are important for several reasons.

What to expect during the appointment

At this visit, your pediatrician will assess your child’s physical growth, vision, hearing screen, and vitals (blood pressure, temperature, weight and height). If not already completed, lab evaluation may include screening for lead and anemia.

Screening for age-appropriate milestones will not only determine your child’s fine, gross motor and receptive and expressive language skills, but will also look at how your child reacts in social and emotional settings.

An updated 2019 AAP statement regarding school readiness said that: “An individual child’s school readiness is determined in large measure by the environment in which he or she lives and grows” and ultimately, early experiences count.

Your pediatrician will give information on healthy nutrition, amount of sleep (10-13 hours including naps) and activities/exercises recommended. And let’s not forget about vaccines to help your child stay healthy. At this visit, it will also be important to see if your child is up to date on their routine childhood vaccines, but at age four, your child will be eligible for their last MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and Varicella (chickenpox), IPV (polio) and an update on their DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis).

Preparing for the visit

It is understandable that your child may have fears of going to their pediatrician for several reasons such as separation, pain, or being afraid of their doctor.

How can you help your child? Prepare them prior to the visit and tell them what will occur such as explaining certain parts of the exam. Tell your child that their pediatrician is there to help them. There are several children books illustrating a visit to the doctors. Play doctor prior to the visit including having your own child pretend to be the doctor. Your child may also choose to bring a toy or object that helps them feels safe.

If there are concerns, your pediatrician can help you find resources to help your child succeed. You and your pediatrician are an awesome team to help your child get ready for school.


Dr. Tien Nguyen is a board-certified pediatrician at Desert Pediatrics (Desertpedsaz.com) in Tucson, Arizona. She completed medical school at the University of Arizona and her pediatric residency at UCLA. She believes in the importance of preventative medicine and enjoys working with families to help them raise happy, healthy children.

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