First approach to dealing with a chronically sick pupil

When you’re dealing with a sick pupil in school or in your classroom there are several steps to take. You can follow these steps from the moment you come to know that your pupil is ill. On this page we will give a brief explanation of the steps. For a more detailed explanation, download the information brochure ‘Caring about, taking care of ....  This booklet has been written to inform teachers about the consequences of illness and treatment for education.

Step I: Talk to parents

Assign one person in the school to contact the parents and make sure you inform each other about everything concerning the education and illness of the pupil.

Step II: Internal and external support

Schools vary in the way colleagues pass on important information. It also depends on agreements with parents. If you need practical or emotional support, discuss this with the members of your team. And, of course, an ‘internal school counsellor’ or coordinator may play an important role.

Step III: Inform classmates

If the illness and its consequences will be noticeable for classmates it is important to inform them. This prevents classmates from misunderstanding or feeling injustice, which may lead to harassment. Informing classmates may also evoke sympathy.

Step IV: Agree on how to keep in touch with the sick pupil

Support and concern by classmates and peers are important for a sick pupil. In case of a long-term absence, chances are that contacts may disintegrate. As a teacher you can play an important role in keeping in touch with the sick pupil. You can structure contacts, e.g. by regularly sending emails or calling on the sick pupil.

Step V: Don’t forget the siblings

Siblings of the sick pupil are confronted with feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger or lack of understanding, and may therefore be upset. Changes in their home environment will often involve a decrease of structure and stability. Fixed school structures may be felt to be recognizable and pleasant.

Step VI: Go on with upbringing

Parents and grandparents are confronted with a (severely) ill child. A lot of attention is paid to the illness, the treatment and its consequences. As a result the child’s upbringing may end up to the second place. Yet it is important for children with a chronic illness to experience rules and limits. In this, teachers may play an important role.



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