The back-to-school health checks to book now
Published January 2023 | 5 min read
Words by Lucy E Cousins
Along with new drink bottles and uniforms, here are the health checks that are important for kids in the new school year.
The start of the school year is an exciting time for families. School bags packed full of fresh stationery, new lunchboxes, and the must-have ‘first day of term’ photos by the front door.
As everyone settles into their new routine, it’s also a great time to make sure you book in all the relevant check-ups for your little ones for the coming year. These include eye, skin and dentist checks.
Your GP can advise of all the health checks your children need each year, but as a general guide, here are a few health checks that are important for kids.
Eye checks for kids
It can be hard to notice if your child is straining their eyes or having trouble seeing words, especially when they’re very young, but the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists advises that children’s eyes can be assessed at any age, as there are specialised techniques appropriate for age and development.
It's recommended children see an optometrist before they start school and every two years after that. Starting eye checks at an early age is one way to manage eye conditions like myopia (short-sightedness), the most common eye condition affecting children. In between check-ups, parents can access free online survey tool My Kids Vision to assess their children’s myopia risks on their own timeline.
Book a check:
HCF members with eligible extras cover can claim 100% back* on a range of prescription glasses or contact lenses, and get one free retinal image at one of our eight HCF Eye Centres in Sydney or through our Australia-wide no-gap More for Eyes network.
Dental checks for kids
Apart from brushing twice a day (for at least two minutes) and starting flossing early, parents are advised to start yearly dental checks as soon as possible for their children, even as early as 12-months-old. Studies show one in four children aged between five and 10 have untreated decay in their baby teeth.
When children are very young, dental checks generally focus on educating parents and children in good dental hygiene, but they also help build positive associations with your dentist. As children grow, brushing technique and the question of braces or corrective devices becomes more important. Dentists are also essential for sports mouthguards, which should be regularly updated and remoulded to keep up with the rapid dental growth in children.
Book a check:
HCF members with eligible extras cover get 100% back on a range of dental services for their families, like check-ups and scale and cleans through our HCF Dental Centres and no-gap More for Teeth provider network of over 10,000 dentists*.
Skin checks for kids
It's estimated two in three Aussies will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. While schools focus on the “No hat, no play” rule, it’s up to parents to make sure your child is wearing enough UV protection, as well as regularly checking their skin for changes. This is especially important if your child is in a higher risk category, like a family history of melanoma, is very fair-skinned or has lots of moles.
Checks can be done with your local GP, who will refer your child to a dermatologist if needed. Between doctor appointments, the Cancer Council recommends regular at-home checks as they can be especially useful to spot any unusual markings, moles or freckles on your child’s skin.
Book a check:
Services like MoleMap offer a way of monitoring moles over time to look for changes. If your child is under 16-years-old and you would like a MoleMap Skin Check (a thorough head to toe skin check), you can contact MoleMap directly to make a booking. Checks only take 20 minutes and can be booked online without a GP referral.
The new year is also the time to make sure your children’s vaccinations are up-to-date – schools and daycare centres may ask for proof of this. To help keep your healthcare costs down, HCF members can get up to $50 back for out-of-pocket costs on some vaccinations not covered by the National Immunisation Program^, making it easier to keep your family healthy.
Apart from the Australian Health Department’s list of recommended health checks for newborns and infants, including the National Immunisation Program, it can be helpful for school-age children to regularly attend GP appointments in order to check on weight, growth and developmental stages. Early detection can help with treatment success for many common childhood conditions.
Children also get vaccinations through the Australian school program, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and human papillomavirus (HPV) when they’re 12 to 13-years-old, and then meningococcal when they’re between 14 and 16-years-old.
Mental health checks for kids
The past three years have been challenging for most Aussies, especially school-aged children who have had their education interrupted. A 2022 survey found 41% of children reported that the pandemic had a negative impact on their wellbeing and around one in five were feeling more “down, scared or worried” than they used to.
Couple that with back-to-school anxiety, social pressures and online (and schoolyard) bullying, and it’s easy to see why seven out of 10 of the most common reasons for a visit to the paediatrician are for mental health.
For parents, seeking professional help for your child’s mental health can seem daunting, but we’re here to help. Calm Kid Central can help teach your child about managing emotional challenges and can give you confidential access to an experienced child psychologist online who can answer any questions within 48 hours. If you have HCF hospital or extras cover with a child aged between four and 11-years-old on your cover, you and your child may be eligible for Calm Kid Central at no cost+.
What is myopia?
With short-sightedness on the rise, we investigate ways to manage and help prevent myopia in children and adults.
Dental visits with kids
A positive first dental visit can help your kids overcome or avoid fear of the dentist later on. Here are some tips for preparing you and your child.
Kids' mental health
How to talk to kids about mental health, staying well and asking for help.
Bullet proofing kids against bullies
Is your child being bullied? Here are some tactics for dealing with this stressful issue.
* 100% back from providers in our no-gap network is available on selected covers. Waiting periods and annual limits apply. Providers are subject to change. We recommend that you confirm the provider prior to booking your appointment. See hcf.com.au/100back
^ HCF will pay a benefit of up to $50 for some common vaccines outside of the National Immunisation Program. Eligibility criteria, waiting periods, limitations and exclusions apply. To learn more about vaccines we pay for, see our Member Guide.
+ Excludes Accident Only Basic cover and Overseas Visitors Health Cover.
This communication contains information which is copyright to The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Limited (HCF). It should not be copied, disclosed or distributed without the authority of HCF. Except as required by law, HCF does not represent, warrant and/or guarantee that this communication is free from errors, virus, interception or interference. All reasonable efforts have been taken to ensure the accuracy of material contained on this website. It’s not intended that this website be comprehensive or render advice. HCF members should rely on authoritative advice they seek from qualified practitioners in the health and medical fields as the information provided on this website is general information only and may not be suitable to individual circumstances or health needs. Please check with your health professional before making any dietary, medical or other health decisions as a result of reading this website.