A comprehensive report into the challenges facing kids who miss school due to significant injury or illness aims to improve outcomes for an estimated 60,000 seriously ill Australian students. Go here to find the report – School Connection For Seriously Sick Kids: who are they, how do we know what works and whose job is it? – released on 12 October, 2015, at Parliament House Canberra.
A Note to Parents and Carers: When Sick Kids Miss School Work (Primary School) Sick kids miss school in three ways: They mightn’t be well enough to attend because of illness, hospital stays, recovery at home, or frequent visits to doctors. They might be physically at school, but feel unwell and can’t concentrate because of that or because their medications make them sleepy, inattentive or impact brain function. The medical condition often has emotional/social impacts on your kid, meaning they may be anxious and/or feel different and isolated from their peers. What The School Is Required To Do For Your kid (According To The Law)
The notion of “inpatient truancy” is interesting and perhaps closer to the truth than is immediately apparent. A kid who is playing truant is a kid who is escaping or avoiding being where he is supposed to be, and that’s exactly what every sick kid in his heart of hearts would like to do.
We are excited about new research being undertaken by the Royal Children’s Hospital Education Institute (RCHEI) which is exploring the gaps in current understandings of the educational needs of children and young people with chronic illness.
In mid-2013, a student from Berrinba East State School in south-east Queensland contacted MissingSchool about ways of supporting kids who missed school because of serious illness. Hayley had been told she would need a bone marrow transplant, and she and her family knew that she would be spending a lot of time in hospital and even more time at home recovering. Hayley was keen to maintain contact with her class and also to help other kids who might be having a similar experience.
Parents of sick kids should carefully consider their child’s individual needs. It’s not that easy to work out what they will be, especially if you’re dealing with a new diagnosis. They might be about absence, mobility, medication, fatigue, pain, nausea (among others) – or they might be emotional, or social. They are all valid.
It is easy to understand that a child with an illness or disability or both may have their education impacted. They might miss periods of schooling but they may also be distracted by pain, worry or medication, especially if the latter has to be administered at school. Often it is forgotten that siblings of these children can face challenges too in relation to their school experience which might result in emotional, social and academic impacts. Their connections with family and with their school might be compromised.
Practically speaking, there isn’t a simple answer to that question. But then again, if you’re reading this, you probably already know that! The crux of the issue is that when your child is seriously and/or chronically ill it can impact their learning. What can be done about it? The Answer = Plenty. What will be done about it? The Answer = It depends on: the school, the individual school leadership, and most importantly, individual teachers.
MissingSchool has just discovered another technology application for keeping seriously ill kids connected to their classrooms. Enter Webchair… We will keep you updated as we investigate more about this application, which has been developed in The Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of www.ursula.nl).
Read about how Skype helped a kid in Missouri to stay connected to his classroom, following a bone marrow transplant for a rare blood disorder. Read the article and watch the video here.
Prior to our 2013 Annual General Meeting, MissingSchool is holding a small consultation process to help inform our planning. It will be in Canberra, on Wednesday 26 June from 1.00-3.00 pm. We are inviting people who have useful and informed perspectives to contribute. To join us, call 0400 241 900, or email Cathy Nell. Invitees include: ACT Council of Parents and Citizens ACT Education and Training Directorate ACT Health Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Australian Catholic University Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (Australian National University) Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth Canberra Hospital School Centre for Research and Action in Public Health, University of Canberra Children’s Healthcare Australasia Families ACT Independent Schools Council of Australia MissingSchool management committee and members Parent Support Group, Catholic Education Office Parents and carers of seriously sick kids Pediatrics Staff at the Canberra Hospital People who work with seriously sick kids Ronald McDonald Learning Program and Pathways Project Sydney Children’s Hospital (Kids Cancer Centre & Behavioural Sciences Unit) University of Canberra