One thing we hear most from parents of sick kids is that when their kids miss school, they really miss their friends and peers. Naturally, their friends and peers miss them too! It makes sense – relationships are two-way, after all.
Peers play an incredibly important role in maintaining the connection of the sick student to school. MissingSchool’s data shows that peer connections not only benefit the absent student’s social and emotional wellbeing but also their learning.
Staying connected also brings wellbeing benefits for peers and can help them grow in empathy, understanding and compassion.
Basically, when a sick student and their peers keep in touch, it can help them worry less about missing school.
“I can tell they ‘get’ how big this is for the student, and they just feel great being a part of it. It’s probably the best thing they learned at school that day – maybe all year. They learnt how empathy and inclusivity is like the tide, lifting all ships.”
Our data collected since 2017 reveals that keeping in touch with peers through technology during school absences can really help sick kids. Here’s how:
- Giving sick kids a sense of normalcy, reminding them they’re still friends, classmates, and learners, even when they’re unwell.
- Easing transitions between school and treatment, and reducing their anxiety, especially if they’re feeling insecure or self-conscious.
- Keeping friendships going, reducing the fear of missing out, and offering chances to socialise.
- Not only do sick kids benefit, but their peers also benefit from connection during their classmate’s absence. Parents and teachers tell us that:
- Peers feel happy, excited, and relieved when they reconnect with an unwell student who’s been absent.
- Experiencing the absent student’s presence again can motivate peers to attend and be more involved in school.
- As peers learn about the absent student’s experience, and engage through technology, their understanding, empathy, and inclusion grow.
So, how can we help sick students and peers stay in touch?
- Use telepresence technology – like a telepresence robot or Zoom, Teams or Webex – to sustain classroom conversations and interactions.
- Implement a buddy system that pairs peers with a sick student to assist with technology logistics and foster friendship, support and empathy.
- Seek support from MissingSchool so we can share strategies to bridge the gap between the school and home or hospital environment.
As the end of the financial year approaches, we would like to take a moment to express our gratitude for your continued support and generosity. Now is the time to make a tax-deductible donation and help keep lonely kids connected.
Our connection to our community is vital, and it would be impossible for us to stay the course without your incredible support. There are many ways to help:
- follow along and cheer us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- share this newsletter with your family, friends, or colleagues so we can reach more sick kids, and
- donate towards getting a seriously sick child back into their classroom.
Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard.
Let’s keep connecting.