Helping Children With Medical And Mental Health Conditions Get The Best Out Of School

What can schools learn?

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A new year, more challenges and a lot of catching up to do. This is what many schools, families, young people and children are thinking as the new school term gets started. But what can schools learn from this situation we are living through?
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For most young people the school term will be starting with learning at home, once again back to online lessons and emailed assignments. Mustering motivation to open the maths text book or face an empty page needing to be filled with an essay on a poem, barely comprehensible and likely irrelevant or so it seems at the time.  This is hardly the most exciting start to the year. 

Missing out on teacher lead learning and peer support makes a significant difference to the learning experience. However there is a group of children and young people who have had to learn how to manage interrupted learning, not having a teacher to ask for help or a friend to confide in when things are tough, long before Covid19.

Children and young people living with chronic or acute illness regularly find themselves in hospital or confined to home as they manage their health needs. They have to learn to do without the teacher, adjust to gaps in knowledge that makes set assignments significantly more difficult as well as motivate themselves to carry on learning despite feeling they are constantly playing catch up.

If we are looking for New Year resolutions, or trying to find the positives in a bad situation this may be a good place to start. Schools can learn from the situation we are living through now. The skills gained from managing a more responsive and personalised learning programme; understanding and responding to the social and emotional impact of isolation on students can all be utilised long after this pandemic.

If the school and learning experience can be improved for children and young people living with chronic health conditions because of a better understanding of what education means in the fullest sense of the word then that’s a silver lining. The hard task will be not to forget how it feels when the world moves on.

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