This time of year is always worrisome for parents with kids with special health or other needs. It’s school time. Whether it’s your child’s first year of school or their 5th it’s always challenging.
What does the school need to know?
Your school nurse is your new friend. You will need to relay information to your nurse about your child’s condition before school begins. You should supply your nurse with an information sheet specific to your child and their personal issues with their condition. You should also give the nurse educational information about your child’s condition (from a Website). Not sure how to make that happen? Check out this article with a FREE download to help you complete a condition packet to supply to your child’s school nurse.
Even if you have supplied this information to your child’s nurse before, it’s important to update the cover letter specific to your child. You should add any new changes you have witnessed with their condition. How can you do that? By keeping track of your child’s condition, and then creating and updated sheet it will help everyone get up to speed on your child’s condition.
Your child’s teacher should also be made aware of your child’s condition. Your school nurse (or the guidance office) should be supplying the teacher with any necessary information impacting your child’s education in the classroom. If your child is diabetic or has another condition where the teacher would see physical signs in class that disrupts learning, it’s important the teacher knows.
Just to be safe you should supply the same condition packet to your child’s teacher. Although we would love to believe our school is an efficient place of sharing between important people like your child’s teacher and the nurse, it is often not. Things like papers get lost in the hub-bub and shuffle.
After teaching middle school for 8 years I can tell you I was often not informed about a child’s condition. I learned about their conditions from them when they needed something, or from another teacher politely informing me because they hadn’t been told either. Often schools make it the teacher’s initiative to check all records for special needs on “their own time.” And as a former teacher I can tell you there is very little “on your own time” to go sit and look up every child to see if they have additional information. If a parent were to hand me information, you bet I would thoroughly respond to and read it!
It’s important that the teacher knows about your child and you want to make sure it happens. The best way to make it happen is to give your child’s teacher the information from your hand to theirs. Your child’s teacher will appreciate it as well.
What can you do to prepare your child and yourself for school?
Start by sharing with your child the procedures to handle their condition, treatment or other necessary care while at school. Creating an easy-to-follow medication chart (can be found in my book How to Get a Diagnosis), or notes for your child (pictures if they cannot read yet) will help them keep track and manage their condition while they are away from you.
Create a line up of events that your child can easily remember. For example here is what I would say to Parker related to PFAPA- “if you are starting to notice you are getting a fever you should tell your teacher and ask to go to the nurse. At the nurse, she can take your temperature and then contact mommy to see what we want to do.” You can decide the steps and apply your child’s condition to this scenario.
Beyond the basics, what can we expect?
The first thing to expect is a flare or aggravated symptoms of your child’s condition after school begins. If your child has an autoimmune or autoinflammatory condition these are often aggravated by extreme changes (or even slight) in schedule and child stress. Being away from a parent all day, or just a new teacher and a new classroom might be enough stress for your child’s condition to rear up. Knowing this, and expecting it, will help you all be prepared when it happens. It will likely take a few months for your child to adapt to their new conditions.
Confusion and challenging medicating conditions might arise. Until a system is tried and tested, it will be confusing and possibly challenging to be sure your child is getting the treatment they need. Your child may be nervous about someone new (new nurse or just a new person in general) administering treatment and answering their questions.
Preparing the nurse, your child’s teacher, and your child for their new situation is a must. If your child is new to school, it’s important to prepare your child to accurately share about their condition. Everyone being on the same page is key to success.
What do you do to prepare for school?