Nurse Allen: Make School Sick Days Less Stressful

Despite your best efforts, your child will get sick. And chances are, your child will at some point be ill enough that he or she will need to stay home from school.

Taking care of a sick child can be complicated when your child’s school and your job are involved. By working out a plan before that first sniffle, you’ll spend less time scrambling for care and arranging for make-up work, and more time doing what’s important: helping your child feel better.

Have a Plan for Child Care

Parents who work may need to enlist a neighbor, friend, or family member to help with child care when their child is sick. Some employers may allow short-term telecommuting arrangements. Some communities have child-care facilities, often at children’s hospitals, especially for sick children. Knowing in advance who will stay with a sick child can make an unexpected sick day less stressful.

Work With the School

If your child needs to stay home, work with school staff members to keep him or her in the loop on assignments while also allowing the child  time to recover. Here are some tips for helping your child stay on track at school:

* Call the school right away and explain that your child is staying home because of an illness. If it’s a potentially contagious illness, let the office worker know so she can inform the teacher.

* Know the school’s policy on absences so you can follow proper procedure. For example, the school requires a doctor’s note for an absence of a certain length to be excused.

* Let teachers know right away about your child’s illness and make a plan for getting her assignments. Keeping communication open with your child’s teachers throughout the illness is crucial  to keeping your child from falling behind.

* Keep your child’s stress level as low as possible. Getting well is more important than completing every school assignment. Assure the child that he or she will  have time to make up the work  and that the child will feel better soon. “The top priority should be letting the child’s body heal properly.

* Don’t send your child back to school until the child's  temperature has been normal for at least 24 hours. This can be hard for both parents and kids; it’s tempting to send your child back to school as soon as he or she feels well enough to get dressed. Even if a child feels fine, the body is working hard to fight the illness. When your child is completely healthy, he  or she can return to school rested and able to focus.

Mrs. Allen
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