Getting ready for school 101

Visit the doctor in June


It’s June. If your kids aren’t already out for the summer, they soon will be. Yes, it is a time to relax and take pleasure in having them around. But you’re a parent, remember—you can never relax too much. So, it’s not too early to be thinking about September and taking care of those doctor and dentist appointments for the kids. Whether it’s eyes, teeth or general exams, doctors are not as busy in June. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Physical exams are required in Illinois for kids going to school for the first time and those entering fifth and ninth grades. New this year, Illinois requires physicals to include a child’s body mass index—to determine if he or she is overweight—and a diabetes screening if they are considered overweight. You may want to remind your child’s doctor about this in case the office doesn’t have the updated Certificate of Child Health Examination form.

The Chicago Public Schools are making a big push to have parents take care of physical exams for current fourth- and eighth-graders by the end of this school year. Taking care of this now means one less piece of paper to deal with in September.

Also expected to go into effect next year is a state requirement that all children show evidence of having a dental exam. Doing this early won’t hurt because medical exams are good for one year, according to the city school’s Office of Specialized Services.

And speaking of teeth, June is a good time to start if your child needs braces or other dental work.

“The real savvy parents know that there is an adjustment period,” says Wilmette orthodontist Thomas Everett. The only caveat: “I wouldn’t start [a child] a day or two before going on a trip.” 

And don’t forget the eyes. If you update the prescriptions now, kids will have time to adjust to new glasses or contacts.

Families should know that medical care and financial assistance in Illinois is available through the federal and state programs KidCare and FamilyCare. There are income requirements, but a family of four earning $38,700 qualifies. Visit to see if you qualify.

The Chicago Department of Public Health also provides immunizations at no cost and physical exams on a sliding scale basis.  For locations, call (312) 746-5380 or visit

Lastly, if your child is starting a new school next year, June is a good time for a tour. If your child is nervous, taking him or her along to view the school might help calm those jitters. Merry Mayer


Countdown to school

Making those doctor and dentist appointments are the first step in getting ready for school. Look for more tips in upcoming issues of Chicago Parent.

Calm the school jitters (July): Whether it’s the preschooler fearing his first day or the jaded middle schooler whose grades are slipping, help them get excited about going back.

School supplies (August): Find out what to buy for each grade level and where to find the best prices.


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