All children have the right to access education, even when they are unwell or in hospital. While hospital treatment will usually cause disruptions to school or kindergarten attendance, there are many ways to encourage continued learning and engagement. It is important to keep in touch with your child's school or kindergarten during treatment so that teachers can continue to support your child's learning.
Arrange regular meetings at school or kindergarten with your child's teacher or coordinator. You can also encourage wellbeing coordinators, student support staff and inclusive education staff to attend. Use these meetings as a chance to discuss your child’s health condition and the impact it may have on their education. Schools and kindergartens will be better able to plan ahead and offer support when they are kept informed and updated throughout your child's illness and treatment.
School meeting checklist:
- Establish the best contact people for ongoing communication.
- Discuss your child’s privacy and how you wish information to be shared with other staff and students.
- Ask the school or kindergarten staff to set up a Student Health Support Plan (SHSP).
- Share information such as contact details, fact sheets, support agencies, treatment timelines and expectations.
- Explain the symptoms and side effects related to your child’s condition and how they may present at school or kindergarten.
- Discuss making reasonable adjustments to curriculum and attendance while your child is having treatment or recovering at home.
- Ask teachers to establish an Individual Education Plan (IEP) while your child is away from school and when they first return.
- Discuss plans for attendance and gradual return to school following treatment and recovery.
- Brainstorm ideas that might help your child to feel more connected to their classmates during treatment.
- Discuss the best way to share class resources, learning tasks, curriculum and assessments.
- Discuss support strategies for siblings.
A quick email update can be an effective way to stay in touch and will be appreciated by your school or kindergarten teachers. Older students should be encouraged to manage some communication directly with their teachers themselves, via email where possible.
Phone calls and teleconferences
If you are unable to attend meetings at the school or kindergarten in person, regular phone calls or teleconferences will allow you to stay in touch and advocate for your child’s needs. Teleconference technology such as Zoom or Skype can also allow students to talk to friends and see what is happening in their classroom.
Teach your teachers
Share information that you have been given about your child's health condition with teachers and staff at school or kindergarten. Ask your medical team at the hospital if they can recommend any good websites that will help teachers to understand your child's health needs.