Welcome to another edition of our newsletter! This week we’ll be focusing on supporting children in the early primary school years when they can’t physically attend school for health reasons. This is an exciting time for students and their families. However, it can be challenging when a child can’t attend school in person. We’ll explore strategies and tips for supporting these young learners who are absent.
“I think she loved it. It was good, because she felt like she wasn’t really missing out too much.”
A quick look at MissingSchool’s support for primary school-age students reveals that students in kindergarten (or equivalent) through year one form a significant portion (25%) of those we assist. We have seen remarkable success stories, demonstrating the positive impact on young students’ lives.
Izzy’s Inspiring Tale of Tech and Friendship
One heartwarming story is that of Izzy, who you may remember from an earlier newsletter. Izzy was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. Unable to start kindergarten in person, Izzy used a telepresence robot to begin her school journey and join her kindergarten class. She quickly made friends, shared her schoolwork through the robot, and even joined her classmates during playtime and assemblies. Izzy’s experience highlights how technology can bridge the gap for young learners, fostering connections and maintaining a sense of belonging.
Tips to Make the Start of School Smooth
Having supported students with technology since 2018, we’ve compiled several tips to help smooth the start of school:
- Test drive technology. Whether the student will join through a robot or another technology, make sure they’ve had an opportunity to try it out with a teacher or learning support assistant before they join their class.
- Establish a routine. Encourage the student to follow the school day routine to the extent possible, depending on their situation. This can help to prepare them for when they are able to attend in person.
- Promote social interaction: Include opportunities for social connection during class time, and in recess and lunch breaks. Izzy’s story highlights how transformational technology can be in supporting social engagement.
- Consider school size. For parents who have the option to choose between schools, consider whether a smaller or larger school will best suit your child.
- Check support systems: Ask about the school’s strategies to support sick students, and students who miss school.
- Establish flexibility. Ask the school for flexibility and establish adjustments, including for supporting transitions between or following medical absences.
- Open communication. Research recommends ongoing communication between parents, health professionals, and schools, in order to meet the educational and social needs of sick students.
- Document interactions. Schools, parents, and health professionals should endeavour to maintain well-documented communication chains.
- Identify coordinators. It is especially valuable to have a specific teacher or learning support assistant coordinate school-side. MissingSchool can work with the coordinator to make sure there is positive progress and to troubleshoot any issues or challenges.
We hope you find these tips and insights valuable in supporting your student’s journey in the early primary school years. Remember that you’re part of a supportive community and, together, we can help our young learners thrive even in challenging circumstances.
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.