HIBBING — As July fades into August and “Back To School” sales line the aisles of shopping centers, area students and their families will start planning for the beginning of the school year.

Part of that planning should includes making sure your child is physically fit and ready for another year of learning. The best way to do that is to schedule a physical with a practitioner.

“Pediatricians strongly suggest these exams be done annually because there are so many developmental changes that occur in each year of a child’s life,” said Margie Randolph, a manager of pediatric care with Essentia Health.

Exams typically consist of a thorough check of the heart, lungs, hearing and vision, as well a focus on social and emotional aspects of a child’s health.

“We have developmental questionnaires that we begin using once a child is six months old,” explained Randolph. “As they get older, the questions change and focus on things specific to that age group.”

Annual exams are also a convenient time to schedule any needed vaccinations.

“We have some families that chose not to vaccinate their children, and we listen to their concerns and share with them why we feel it’s an important part of a child’s health,” Randolph said.

Minnesota law requires all students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12 to show they have received immunizations or an exemption.

Some of these vaccines include measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, mumps, haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B.

As kids get older, they should also feel encouraged to have discussions with their providers, Randolph points out.

“We like to think that with a pediatrician-based relationship, we can take care of the child through all stages of development, and then help them transfer to adult medicine, once they turn 18,” she said.

Most physical exams take 20 to 30 minutes and are covered annually by insurance, although it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider.

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