‘Tis the season to be sick. Oh yes. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Chicago, Mother Nature can’t decide what season she wants us to be in at present. Last week we started out at 70 degrees and ended at 30. That is quite a swing for your closet, let alone your immune system. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see so many parents posting on Facebook the last couple of weeks that they were home caring for sick children. I was one of them, times two. Both of my girls got sick in the days before Thanksgiving and stayed so until well after the holiday. In the past, it’s been horrible when faced with re-entry in school after over a week of absences. Why? Because going back to school, still weak from their illness, they were met with a mountain of schoolwork greater than normal. They were behind on the lessons, but yet they had to jump in the deep end and learn the new lessons without the benefit of foundation of the old ones. Shaky ground to say the least. But this Momma of three has learned from experience with countless numbers of sick days. My system isn’t fool-proof, (because it involves humans, especially small ones), but it has proven helpful along the way. That’s why I want to share it with you.
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Keep your child’s teachers in the loop about your child’s illness, and they in turn can keep you abreast of the work being completed in the class in your child’s absence. This will help everyone, (you, your child and their teachers), feel more in sync when your child finally returns to class.
2. BONUS DAY
Don’t send your child back to school limp. I made that mistake recently and my child paid for it dearly. She ended up even sicker and was out for another whole week of school. You don’t have to tell me twice. This time around I kept her home an extra day once she was feeling better. We used that day to get her back in the habit of waking at the regular school time and sitting up completing school work during school hours. This will give you the extra assurance that their immune system is ready to face a school full of germs, plus, it will allow your child a chance to dig into the pile of missing work that they will face when they return to school.
Contact the guidance counselor and make sure that he or she is aware of when your child is re-entering school. Arrange for your child to check in with them after school for the first few days upon returning to help your child create an organized plan to dig through the missing assignments, while also managing the new assignments that are being assigned daily. If your school doesn’t have a guidance counselor regularly in attendance, involve the vice principal. They can take the reigns or appoint someone else to oversee the transition.
Arrange for tutoring sessions with teachers in your child’s core subjects that require a knowledge-build, such as science, math or a foreign language. These sessions need to happen as soon as possible so that your child has the all information necessary to successfully complete their missing assignments, as well as understand the new material being presented in class. Be sure to keep your school’s administration or guidance department linked in so that everyone is aware of the action plan.
Ask the teacher to recommend a student in the class who is particularly adept at the subject. Make arrangements to have your child meet with this student to go over assignments past and present, the idea being that sometimes children feel more comfortable asking questions of their peers than they do an adult. Plus, hearing a lesson explained by a fellow classmate can be extra helpful in the quest to get up to speed on classroom materials.
Consider scanning and emailing completed assignments as a back-up. There will ostensibly be a lot of papers for your child and her teachers to keep track of. As long as the teachers are comfortable with email exchanges, it could prove to be a very efficient way to track your child’s progress. No matter what I would recommend creating an email thread with the team you assemble so that once again everyone is aware of the action plan and its progress or missteps.
Don’t let your child get overloaded by the demands of schoolwork. Coming off of an illness their immune system is tenuous, but so are their emotions. Tending to missing assignments can feel like a daunting task to your child. Yes, homework is important, but your child still needs exercise, play and downtime. Make sure that he is pacing himself during this time so he doesn’t get run down emotionally or physically.
I have many more years of school parenting left, so if you have any additional suggestions for dealing with school re-entry after an illness I hope you will share them. It takes a village to raise a child and a team to survive parenting. You are my “village people.” Go Team!
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