Keeping A Sick Child On Track With School

You can keep a sick child up to date with school work.

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• Parenting: How-To • Parenting: Tips & Tricks

Beth Anderson's Take
If you have a sick child, there's already a lot on your plate. There are doctor's appointments, medicines, and just plain worrying to deal with. Sometimes schoolwork is the last thing on your mind. But there are some simple steps that you can take to make sure your child stays up-to-date on his or her learning while recovering. These steps work well whether the illness is short or long term.

Get Lots of Rest and Follow the Doctor's Orders


There's no need to extend your child's illness by making them stay up late to finish assignments. The best way to make sure they're actually absorbing everything is to make sure they're healthy. Take care of the health issues first, before you tackle anything else.

Contact Your Child's Teacher Early and Often


Think of the extra work created for a teacher when a parent or child says, "I've missed three weeks of school, can I have all my work right now, before the bell rings?" or "My son will be out for six weeks for an operation, can I have all his assignments now?"

Wanting all the assignments in one large block is the quickest way to get overwhelmed or misplace something. Contact your child's teacher in a timely manner, but also think about picking up assignments in small blocks. Make sure to give the teacher plenty of time to gather the assignments as well.

Make Sure You Have All the Supplies You Need


Before you go home with the assignments, make sure to check and see if you have the textbooks, supplies, or extra materials needed. The last thing a teacher wants to hear is the excuse that the student didn't have their textbook. It also saves you time and money since you're only making one trip to the school.

Ask About Assignment Deadlines and Options


Make sure you understand your school's protocol for makeup work. Will all of it be due the day your child returns, or will you have extra time? By knowing the deadlines in advance, you have a clearer idea of how to prioritize the assignments.

Also, check with the teacher about options for each assignment. Can things be typed instead of handwritten? Can presentations be made up, etc. If you ask politely, chances are your teacher will bend over backwards to help out your child.

Consider Getting an Online Tutor


There are several credible tutoring sites that give you access to real teachers on your schedule. If your child is struggling and is likely to be out for a while, consider getting an online tutor. This way, you don't have to worry about working out meeting times with others, or possibly infecting anyone else with a nasty case of the flu!

Complete Work Slowly During the Illness


If you rush through an assignment, it's a waste of time. The brain needs time and repetition to truly absorb knowledge. While rushing through to get it all done is tempting, having your child pace herself is much better in the long run.

Give a Helping Hand, But Don't Take Over


You aren't helping anyone if you do your child's work for them. However, your child will likely need help. Motivation lags when we feel bad, and concentrating on math problems is difficult when our throat is sore. Your child needs you to help them: encourage them, explain topics, assist them in making a list of tasks. Just make sure that in the end, they are doing the work.

Read to Them, or Make Sure They're Reading


Many times, especially in later grades, assignments can be reading heavy. One of the ways that you can really help your child is to read these passages out loud to them, or to ask them questions to make sure they're reading.

It's also a good idea, especially if they have no pressing assignments, to incorporate reading into their down-time. Reading helps all areas of study by enlarging vocabulary, learning to create inferences and to predict outcomes. Find high-interest books or magazines that will hold your child's attention. Reading is a learning experience, especially when it's fun!

Play Games Based on Logic Puzzles


If your child has no assignments, or if it's a short term illness, think about playing games with them. Any game that taps into reasoning skills is a great way to keep their brain active. Games like Sudoku and Nintendo's Brain Age are great ways to spend time that might otherwise be wasted on brainless daytime TV. Think about games you can play together as a family. Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, or Clue are great classic games to get everyone involved. Any games that involves knowledge, math, reasoning, or words are great ways to learn and have fun at the same time. That's almost any board game out there!

Be Patient


It's important to remember that while your child is sick, he's not at the top of his game. Tasks will likely take a little longer, and not necessarily be up to regular standards. Be patient and encouraging.

Make sure your child takes plenty of breaks from school work to rest and recuperate. School is important, but the most important thing is your child's health.
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Beth Anderson
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