Ideas to Help Your Younger Child
- Ask your child if they want to take part and or share updates with their class while they are in the hospital or at home. This can be done through blogs, websites like Caring Bridge, Facebook, email, letters or Skype communication. This should always be done with parent and or teacher support.
- Consider using role play to help your child prepare. Talk about how they might answer questions about their illness, and why they were in the hospital.
- Talk with your child and their teachers to plan how they will indicate if they need a break or are having a problem during class.
- If an aide will be assigned, ask your child if they would like to meet with the aide before the first day back to school.
- Consider visiting the school with your child after school hours so that your child can see where they will sit, where they might take breaks and where to go for their medication etc.
Ideas for Older Children and Teens
- If your child uses a social networking site, work with them to choose photos and brief updates to keep their classmates in the loop. If your child will have a cast or visible medical equipment, sharing photos in advance of seeing friends may help reduce discomfort. This should be done with parent and teacher support.
- Ask if your child would like visits from classmates while recovering at home.
- Parents have shared that helping their child learn to advocate for themselves with school staff and friends is important. Depending on your child’s developmental level, needs and abilities, consider talking with them about how to speak up and ask for help. Talk about who they should approach, and practice wording that will effectively communicate their needs or concerns.
Ideas for Children Who Use Alternative Communication
- If you child is nonverbal, consider compiling a mini-photo album to share photos, x-ray images or interesting facts to help share their hospital experience.
- If your child uses an alternative communication device, think about adding content that allows them to answer questions about their time away from school.
- If your child uses a picture exchange communication system (PECS), print out some symbols that relate to the hospital stay so that your child can easily use them.
References used to create this material include the Medical Home Portal, Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah and Brian Ross, MEd. Seattle Children’s Hospital