4 Year Healthy Kids Check And School Readiness
The 4 year healthy kids check and assessing readiness for school can be an overwhelming topic for parents and their child. The age at which kids start school or formal education such as prep and kindy programs, varies across Australia. In years gone by, age was the predominant factor that determined when kids started in school. Today, school readiness plays a big role in determining whether kids should start school or do an extra year of kindy or pre prep programs.
What is school readiness?
This describes a combination of physical, social, emotional and developmental skills that can be assessed to determine if a child is ready to enter the formal education system. Parents have a big influence in their child’s preparation for school years as they are often the ones teaching kids their early literacy, numeracy and social skills. Child care workers and Kindy teachers can also provide invaluable advice as to whether they feel your child is ready for school. Pediatrics Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists can be invaluable in providing assessment and advice for your child.
When is the 4 year old check up?
In previous years, the Government has assisted parents in making this decision by offering all 4 year olds a Healthy Kids Check, which was usually completed as a part of the 4 year old vaccinations. This was a valuable tool for GP’s and parents to identify any issues that need to be addressed before a child starts school and their readiness for school. The Government has stopped funding the 4yo healthy kids check, but many General Practice’s offer a similar service for a private fee. It is a good idea to screen your child when well, as when they are sick their participation can be affected. It is also a good way to positively reinforce the child’s relationship with the GP.
What can investing in a 4 year old check up achieve?
A 4 year old health check can identify both health and developmental issues that can become problematic during school years.
A 4 year old check should consist of:
- Height, weight and BMI including a discussion of eating habits and physical activity.
- An eye check – check for a squint which may cause problems with near and distance vision.
- Hearing test done at the GP practice.
- Dental health check up and dental hygiene advice.
- Toilet habits – nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) and constipation are common in kids and effective management prior to entering school years can save both parents and children considerable distress.
- Checking for known or suspected allergies – consider how the allergy will be managed in a school environment. Do you need an anaphylaxis management plan or advice from a specialist? Sometimes food challenges are done prior to entering school to minimise restrictions on the child and their peers.
- Speech and language development. Communication is an important tool in learning and can affect the relationship between your child and their teacher.
- Fine and gross motor skills
- Behavior, mood and sleeping patterns
- Emotional maturity
For a list of developmental milestones for an average 4 year old child, see the following link:
As parents there are simple activities you can do with your child to help them get ready for school.
- Read to your child. Encourage them to look through books and use their imagination. It is also a good bonding activity for parents.
- Encourage your child to mix with other children. Learning to communicate, socialise and interact with others are important skills for school. Playgroups or organised sports are good ways for children to learn sharing and taking turns.
- Encourage drawing and writing. Blank paper and crayons are an excellent way to promote literacy and fine motor skills.
- Help teach your child to be independent in toileting and dressing.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s readiness for school, speak to your GP or health professional.
This article was written by Dr Fiona Raciti (FRACGP, MBBS (Hons), BSc (The University of Qld), Diploma of Child Health, Cert Clin Occ Med Monash), Director at Family Doctors Plus.