Start the school year off with a healthy report card
Did you know your child’s success as an adult can hinge on a well-child visit? While you should expect your 5 to12-year-old kids to progress normally, you want to make sure they stay healthy and are reaching their age group’s milestones. A well-child visit this summer with their pediatrician is the best place to start.
Pediatricians see the world through your youngsters’ eyes. It’s their job to make sure each little patient is not only healthy, but has the skills and emotional well-being to take on all of the information they’ll learn in school so they can grow into happy and successful adults. Each well-child check is that important.
A Source for Information
During a well-child visit, your child’s pediatrician will check their physical health to make sure they are growing okay. And they’ll also share important health information with both you and your child.
“I like to help kids set good habits for the school year,” explained Dr. Nilam Khurana, board certified pediatrician and cofounder of Healing Hearts Pediatrics. “I’ll tell them, ‘Make sure you have a water bottle this size’ and point out how much they need to drink before the middle of the day. Just lots of good information to make sure they’re successful in school.”
That information includes vaccinations and which ones are available for your child’s age group.
“I believe strongly in prevention,” Khurana said. “That’s what pediatrics is all about, we’re working on prevention. We want everyone to remember that some of the diseases still prevalent in other countries but not here in America are only a plane flight away, and their children can get them and they’re important to prevent.”
Ages 5-12 is the timeframe your kids learn the skills to become independent. They build self-esteem and the ability to utilize the world around them to learn.
“In that age range,” Khurana said, “they’re going from ‘I don’t have to do anything for myself’ to someone who can potentially be fully functional. They may be making breakfast, their lunch, doing their homework by themselves, planning their day, planning their activities. It’s huge, that development in those few years.”
A most important development is reading. Through third grade, children learn to read. After that, they read to learn. In Arizona, one in five people have dyslexia (a reading-related disability). It’s the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Khurana, who has a dyslexic child, has researched dyslexia and screens for it.
“If they don’t learn to read properly,” Khurana explained, “they will not be able to get any of the information they need to progress in life.”
Know Your Fuels
If you and your kids are not eating healthy and haven’t made exercise a part of your lives, the time to start doing that is right now. Khurana uses myplate.gov as a source for healthy diet information during well-child visits.
“I tell kids it’s like when your parents fill the car with gas. If they put in the wrong type, like diesel and their car doesn’t take diesel, it ruins the car. It’s also very important for children to build a foundation of healthy exercise as part of their life routine. Your bones grow stronger with exercise, and it’s good for mental health,” Khurana said.
Sometimes the struggle means your child is dealing with a mental health issue, the incidence of which has skyrocketed due to the pandemic. Many cultures don’t recognize mental health as a true illness and want to ignore it.
“It’s not a comfortable topic to talk about,” Khurana acknowledged, “to think about your child being unhappy. People have the mentality that if they ignore it, it will go away. But the exact opposite happens and we need to address it. Those are the things we like to approach during well visits. We like to make sure we know how they’re going to do for the coming school year.”
To learn more about how you can help your 5 to 12-year-olds be their best, visit Cafecito con Equality Health to hear moderator Maria Rebozo LaPine’s lively discussion with her special guest, Dr. Nilam Khurana. Also, sign up for Equality Health’s messages for more inspiring health tips.