The transition to middle school can bring many changes for your child. More homework, class changes, and new sports opportunities are some of the major differences you might be expecting. The move to middle school typically comes at a time when children will begin to experience gradual changes in their bodies as they enter puberty as well. In order to help your children prepared for all the challenges middle school can have, it’s important to have some basic health checkups completed. This way, you and your child will have peace of mind, and you’ll ensure the transition to middle school will be as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Heart and Lungs
In middle school there will be new opportunities to participate in sports like football, volleyball, and basketball. While a heart and lung exam is part of a routine physical, it’s especially important your child have this basic check done again. This is just to make sure the heart and lungs are strong enough to handle the demands of increased physical activity. The exam can find heart rhythm abnormalities, heart murmurs, and breathing difficulties like asthma or shortness of breath. These conditions could prevent or negatively impact your child’s participation in physical education or sports. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, your child will be able to fully enjoy the wider range of physical activities available in middle school.
Your child’s classes in middle school will involve note-taking and move at a much faster pace than elementary school. Therefore, vision is very important to your child’s educational success. To ensure they are ready, visit an optometrist several months before classes begin. Places like All About Eyes can check your child’s eye health and fit them for glasses or contacts, if needed.
Weight and Blood Pressure
These important vital signs can provide clues to your child’s general health. Over 17% of U.S. children are obese, and the rate of high blood pressure in childhood has increased by more than 25% in the past decade. In middle school, many children often put on weight as they approach puberty. Often, as weight increases, blood pressure also rises. Sometimes, eating disorders may also begin during the transition to middle school. Having your child’s weight and blood pressure assessed during this transitional period will let you know where he or she fits and allow you to start any needed treatments early.
Many children begin orthodontic treatments during middle school as this is a time when your child’s teeth are undergoing a transition, losing the last of the baby teeth, and getting the final permanent teeth. Having a dental checkup before this important milestone will help you find out if your child needs braces or other orthodontic services. Getting a referral early will help you start treatment early. Fewer interventions may be required, and this will make the treatment less expensive overall.
Before your child starts school, it’s important to make sure they are up to date on all vaccinations. A tetanus booster is recommended at age 11-12, and you may also wish to consider beginning the HPV vaccine at this age. It’s particularly important they have had all doses of the MMR vaccine by this time, and if your child has a chronic condition, make sure they have a yearly flu shot.
Hearing and Ear Health
Hearing tests are a very important check that are often overlooked for this age group. As children have increasing exposure to screen time and music devices with earbuds, they may unknowingly turn up the volume to a level that’s louder than appropriate and listen for longer than is advisable. Though this may seem harmless, it can cause early changes to the ear that may lead to hearing loss later in life. Children at this age may also be prone to ear infections, which can cause hearing loss. A hearing test and a quick look inside your child’s ears can determine if your child is experiencing any issues that may need treatment. Protecting your child’s ear health at this early age will allow him or her to reduce the risk of hearing problems later in life.
These basic checks will help alert you and your child to any problems that may need attention before middle school. At such a transitional time in your child’s life, health is all the more important. Having these exams and any needed treatment will allow your child to flourish during his or her time in middle school and take advantage of all the new activities that are available.