N’s 2 year check was an interesting experience. Not at all like I expected. We were sent a questionnaire to complete beforehand on development things he can or can’t yet do (wonder how many people lie or just don’t bother completing it?), with the thought that it would chatted through at the appointment.
Apart from that, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it seems neither did most of my mum friends going through the same stage with their children around this time. As usual with health visitors/medical checks, every area or even health visitor seems to be different.
Previous checks were usually at home which to me made perfect sense as the HV could see how the child was in a natural comfortable environment. Obviously not as efficient for the health visitor. Because we’re in a rural area with a tiny doctor’s surgery, the health visitor comes from a different surgery (not even the nearest one, but one 25 minutes away) to their clinic once a fortnight. Our old health visitor moved on just before his health check, which was a shame as she really seemed to care and tried to build a rapport with the children.
Our 2 year health check
This check was at the surgery. I presumed (from talking to friends) it would be around an hour. No. We were in and out in 30 minutes. 10 minutes of that was trying to persuade N to take his clothes off to be weighed (didn’t work, too much crying and dragging clothes back on) or trying to get him to stand on the height measure (only in the end with his wellies on).
So, 20 minutes of a brief run through the questionnaire we’d filled in, totting up the scores. And a couple of questions around eating, teeth and talking. That was it. It could have just been a phone call really.
Other 2 year check experiences
This compares to other friends who’ve had (prior to January when it seems the new questionnaire system came in after trials) a range of 2-2.5 year checks:
- 2 hour group play session with the health visitor observing and chatting to mums/children
- 1 hr plus chat in the home observing and interacting with the child
- 1 hr plus with health visitor in surgery/office watching child play etc.
All of these seem more relevant and helpful. It didn’t help that because our surgery is only a visited surgery, it doesn’t have toys there. From what the health visitor we saw said, with the new system, they’re meant to have a pack of relevant toys, but they hadn’t arrived yet. Helpful.
I’m sure having a questionnaire might be handy if there are parents who don’t take notice of what their children should or shouldn’t be doing, who don’t take them to socialise at local groups or with other children, or don’t provide them with a variety of activities to help them learn the new skills they should be. It should make people more aware of how they could be supporting and helping their child’s development if they’re not already aware. However, I’m sure a health visitor would learn more about how children are getting on by seeing them in a play environment rather than in a stuffy office.
N did enjoy trying to get round the back of the desk to the computer cables, swinging on the floor lamp stand, and playing peekaboo with the bed curtain. Otherwise there was no way apart from my word, that the health visitor would get a real idea of what N was like.
We didn’t have any issues to talk about. I had no concerns about N’s development and being in a childcare setting, any issues would have been noticed by now. But I was expecting a bit more out of the session. Maybe some ideas for play, or some ideas on how to help your child learn new things. I will continue using the guides by month that online resources provide, as these seem to be more consistent and helpful in providing an idea of what you can help children with.
Was the 2 year check worth it?
In my opinion, I’d think they need to rework the sessions and make them more consistent, with the flexibility depending on the child and location. Ours was a waste of time. The health visitor used the wrong scoring system so rang me afterwards to explain and let me know that actually he wasn’t behind in every development area as she had marked. Luckily she noticed otherwise he’d have been hauled up in front of specialists for no reason.
Because N didn’t want to play ball, she also missed a decent check of him. Six months later, someone at nursery noticed he had tongue tie, and we ended up getting referred to speech therapy to get it checked out. Luckily it was all fine by that time, but that kind of thing should have been picked up in an earlier health check.
Health checks can be useful, if the health visitors are interested, asking the right questions, and can get the child to take part.
What have been your experiences?