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The Informed Parent

Fast Facts: The Kindergarten Physical

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Apr. 16, 2012
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It’s a busy time for mom and dad planning for their little one to head off for official schooldays. For most children, kindergarten starts around five years of age. There is a wheelbarrow full of information the schools need completed prior to letting the children walk through the door on that first day.

At the pediatric office we begin a full press seeing all these little ones soon after the start of the new year, even though school may not begin until September. It’s a good rule of thumb to make an appointment for your soon-to-be kindergartner’s physical as early as possible. This is to eliminate any difficulty coordinating the necessary exams, vaccines and forms that need to be completed and returned to the school. It is helpful to bring all forms that need to be completed by your child’s pediatrician to his kindergarten physical appointment for the efficiency of both the parent and pediatric office schedule.

When arriving at the office, parents should expect the kindergarten physical to be longer and with several additional requirements. Briefly, a typical kindergarten exam will include:

  • Weight, height, heart rate and blood pressure measurements.
  • A full physical exam by the pediatrician.
  • Visual and hearing screen.
  • A urine sample and tuberculosis test (PPD)
  • A hematocrit sample.
  • A short question and answer with the child regarding his knowledge of identifying information, and stranger awareness.
  • Review of multiple safety recommendations.
  • Assurance of dental evaluation and follow-up.
  • Completion of booster immunizations (DTaP, IPV, MMR, VZV)

Once all of the above criteria are fulfilled, the pediatrician will be able to complete the admission paperwork required by most elementary schools. These forms frequently require both the signature and stamp of the pediatric physician and office. It’s helpful to let the children know this appointment is to get them ready to start school. Some of the best prepared and excited children I have seen had been talking about the kindergarten physical not just with their families, but also with their preschool or playgroup classmates and friends. It helped them to understand the experience was universal and brought an element of fun to the visit. After the visit, they shared their stories, their Band-Aids, in some classes a cheer for a good job, and of course…for good health!




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