Kindy Health Check
Otherwise known as the School Entry Health Assessment, this is a health assessment provided to all children of Kindy/Pre Primary age in Western Australia. We are lucky enough to have Government funded school nurses in all primary and high schools that have agreed to the service, but school nurses in WA are no longer the ‘Nitty Nora, Bug Explorer’ of the nursing world.
The school nurse at Master G’s school is already handing out forms and completing assessments of the students, although most Kindy students can usually expect to be seen later in the year. We received a form to complete before the assessment. The form asks you to give details of any relevant medical history, such as vision problems in the family, recurrent ear infections or any ongoing medical problems that are being treated. It also asks that you identify any concerns you may have about their child’s development – for example speech, movement, behaviour so that these can be assessed and feedback given as to whether these are normal for the age of the child or is something that would benefit from a referral for assessment by a specialist (eg, Child Development Service, the Optician or Audiology). Sometimes a speech problem is caused by a hearing problem……or an inability to sit still and focus is because the child needs glasses and can’t see the work – how amazing to have all of our kids offered this kind of free health check! The most important part of the form is the front page that asks for a signature to give consent for the assessment to be done, you can decline assessment if you wish.
The screening itself is usually done at school, during school hours and without the parent present. Most kids are fine with this as they are often taken to the room being used in groups of 2 or more. If a child usually has an Educational Assistant then the nurse will often ask them to go along with the child for assessment so that they feel more comfortable. The kids take part in a ‘looking and listening game’ (hearing and vision assessment) and are asked to draw a picture to check fine motor skills, hop, skip, jump etc to test gross motor skills and have their speech, behaviour and other developmentally appropriate skills, such as counting and colours, are assessed as they are interacting with the nurse. Height and weight are done if you request it by ticking the box in that section of the form. The nurse will often ask the teacher if they have any concerns about the kids they are assessing, particularly if you have highlighted a concern of your own, and will work with the teacher if a referral or re-check is needed – for example, if vision is found to be a concern there are often concerns about attention/behaviour so the nurse will let the teacher know so that they can factor this in to how they work with the child. The results of the ‘Kindy Health Check’ are sent back to you in a sealed envelope for confidentiality and if there are any concerns, the school nurse will often call to discuss it.
Even if your child is not of Kindy age, your school nurse is still accessible for any concerns that you may have regarding your child’s health or behaviour and can be contacted through the school. They can help you find parenting courses, discuss your concerns with you and give you advice or referral on any number of issues including FIFO life, bedwetting, constipation, head lice etc.
For me, the Kindy health check is great! Master G just got his hearing checked, which after having grommets inserted at the tender age of 1 year old, is something that is always in the back of my mind, despite having passed his hearing checks since – it’s always nice to know there is still not a problem 🙂