Your Healthy Child: Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten (page 2)
A healthy child is able to start school ready to learn. But a child who is hungry or tired or feeling sick cannot give school the energy and attention it takes to learn and grow. It’s one more reason why keeping your child healthy matters so much.
Be sure your child visits the doctor for regular check-ups or well visits. At these visits the doctor will check your child’s growth and development, as well as keep your child’s immunizations up to date.In most states students new to schools are required by law to have a physical examination by a doctor or a nurse practitioner no more than nine months before, or six months after, they enroll. For healthy growth, your child needs:
- Children learn and do their best in school when they eat a variety of healthy foods in child-sized portions. Healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, breads and cereal, yogurt, milk, and meats. Your child should have a healthy meal before he or she leaves for school. Most elementary schools offer a healthy school breakfast and lunch every day. If your child has food allergies or a special diet, be sure to let the teacher know.
- Children from low-income families may eat school meals free or at a reduced cost. Call your school for more information. If you have trouble affording healthy foods, you may be able to get help.
- Your child needs plenty of exercise in order to be healthy and strong. School-age children need to walk, run, jump and actively play every day.
- Most five-year-olds need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day. A good night’s sleep will help your child to be alert and active in school.
Hearing, Vision, and Dental Screening
- A child who has trouble seeing or hearing will eventually have problems in school. That is why your child’s school will schedule a routine hearing and vision screening to try to detect any problems early. Your child’s dental health is just as important. Have a dentist examine your child before he or she starts kindergarten, and at regular intervals afterward.
Healthy Growth and Development
- Every child is different. Children develop and learn at different rates. In fact, not all children learn things at the same ages! If, however, you are concerned about your child’s development or think your child may have a disability, talk with your child’s doctor, or the school principal.The school can help you and your child through the screening process. If your child is diagnosed with a disability, public schools make every attempt to educate him or her alongside children who do not have disabilities. Special class placement is made only when educating the student in a general class cannot be done satisfactorily.
- Immunizations (also called vaccinations or shots) help to protect your child against serious illnesses or death. Most states require that your child have certain immunizations before he or she can be admitted to school. To attend school, you will need to prove that your child has received the required immunizations and doses. Your child should have received most of his or her immunizations during the first 2 years of life, starting at birth, during routine doctor visits. Your child may need to get additional immunizations before enrolling in school. Vaccines are available through your child’s primary care provider and local health department.
- There are times during the school year when your child may get sick. If your child is sick, it is best to keep him or her at home. This prevents the spread of germs and protects your child, as well as other students and school staff. If your child is sick, be sure to call your child’s doctor, who can help you determine the best treatment. Also call the school and tell them that your child will be absent. Most states have rules for how long children should be kept at home when they have common childhood illnesses. The school nurse can help you understand these rules. See Common Childhood Illnesses for more information.
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