Shopping for school supplies, signing up for extracurricular activities, meeting friends and teachers — the prospect of beginning a new school year can be exciting for children! As a parent of a child living with epilepsy, however, you are often left wondering, “Are they in safe hands?”, “Will their school performance be impacted in any way?” “Will they be able to participate in sports?” While worrying about your child is natural, planning is imperative. Here are a few tips that can prove effective for a healthy start to a new school year.
Prepare your Child
Use the last weeks of summer to get your child adjusted to the schedules of a new school year. Creating a routine by setting a schedule for bedtime, mealtime, and medication time help your child stay organized and gain an understanding of what is expected of them. In this way, they feel secure and prepared for school.
Tackle your Child’s Doubts
Have a conversation with your child regarding concerns they may have managing seizures at school. Asking them to share their feelings or questions gives you an insight into the doubts that linger in their mind. Accordingly, you can offer reassurance and communicate with the school about keeping your child safe.
Keep the School Informed
Planning a meeting with the teacher and principal ensures they are equipped with the required emotional and social information to guide your child. While most children with epilepsy can optimally participate in various school activities, some may require medication during school hours, assistance with certain subjects, or a longer duration of time to complete tests. This is why keeping the school informed is vital. Read about how Jordan Franz shares her experiences of life with epilepsy in high school, which offers helpful insight for parents and teens alike.
Share Facts and Dismiss Myths
Discuss your child’s condition, explaining triggers that can lead to a seizure. Carrying brochures about epilepsy along with a seizure action plan that specifies essential information, such as administering first aid also helps. In this way, the school staff is mindful and can take the necessary steps when helping a student having a seizure. As an added precautionary measure, enquire whether there are others at school you can interact with, such as school nurses, bus drivers, gym teachers, etc. Having this discussion creates a dialogue and those supervising your child are aware of what to expect in case of an emergency and how to deal with it.
Ask the Teacher to Discuss Epilepsy with the Class
Encourage your child’s teacher to openly discuss epilepsy with the class in a manner that is appropriate for the age group of the students and comfortable for your child. Making use of books, movies and other material to better explain this condition to the class helps. You may also like to read our blog post on books to explain epilepsy to a child that includes fun and interesting stories that creates a culture of understanding around epilepsy.
Make it a Fun Experience for your Child
- Visit the school: Take your child to visit the school before school begins by taking a tour of their classroom, the outdoor space such as the playground, and the school nurse’s office. Being familiar with their surroundings helps to create a sense of comfort. Visiting the school beforehand also helps you assess the area and bring safety concerns related to seizures to the school’s attention.
- Create a sense of independence: Children with epilepsy can enjoy their school experience optimally when they aren’t made to feel like they are being monitored constantly. Having the Insypre™ by SmartMonitor (compatible with Apple watches and Samsung watches) ensures they regain their independence for fulfilling school life while the app alerts you in case of any abnormal activity.
- Set up a dedicated space for homework: Create a special place for homework and let your child decorate it. This gives them some control over their learning space and helps them look forward to a new learning experience when returning to school.
Celebrate the first day of school by starting a fun family tradition such as taking a family photograph, an after-school bike ride with mom or dad, or even reserved quiet time as you listen to the details of their day. These activities help steer their mind away from the first day of school worries. Following these steps can ensure your child transitions smoothly back to school as it fosters an overall positive educational experience at a place they are going to spend a major part of their time in.