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Opening Children's Minds for Easier Learning

Learning When Your Child is Sick

Today’s entry will be relatively short for many reasons, but between my fits of coughing and bouts of fever, I have been thinking about kids.

Not necessarily ones who obviously struggle, but every child who has to deal with any sort of illness.

I firmly believe that the older you get, the harder being sick is on your entire being…body, mind and spirit.

That doesn’t mean that being sick is a cakewalk for children, though.

Now, I am not advocating that every time a child is sick that they should stay home. That would create a learning nightmare in and of its self. What I am sharing are my thoughts on the understanding the both parents and teachers should have when it comes to children who are ‘under the weather’ sometimes.

Many children don’t want to miss school for any reason, so they attend even when they should be at home. In these cases, parents and the school should lead by example and send the child home to rest.

Sometimes, though, sick children hide the fact that they aren’t feeling well so they can go to school.

How well do these children function throughout their day, though?

Say they have to face a couple of pop quizzes during their day. They may perform well, but there’s no guarantee that they will. Now let’s say that they pull two scores in the 80’s on those pop quizzes. Could they have done better? Perhaps if they weren’t dealing with a headache from a sinus infection during the quizzes, they could have.

Is this taken into account when grading, though? No. We know grades aren’t everything, though, so let’s look at a more meaningful example.

That same day, the child has to take notes from a guest speaker in English. The notes will be used on a major test and then will be needed for the end-of-year final as well.

Because of the sinus infection, the poor child’s ears are a bit stuffed up and his is still dealing with that headache, too. Turns out he’s missing every third word of the lecture, causing him to miss 1/3 of the notes he’s going to need. Neither he nor the teacher realizes that he’s missing that much of the lecture because he’s focusing on being able to pay attention through that headache and the teacher sees that he is taking notes like he was told.

We get to the major test and he diligently studies his notes not realizing he’s missing so much. He arrives at his class to take the test and sees that something isn’t right. He doesn’t remember hearing, seeing or studying about 1/3 of the test! Too late, now, though.

He takes the test, getting score in the 60’s, which is about 25 pts. lower than he normally would have gotten. And it all comes back to that day in class when he had a sinus infection which affected his hearing/auditory processing and his concentration. There is no going back for this child, though. There are no allowances for illness if you receive a lower score than normal. And let’s hope that in a case like this, someone will help this child find those missing notes for the end-of-year test!

My ending thoughts are these…as parents and/or teachers, we should not be afraid to tell a child ‘no, you’re not going to/staying in school if you are sick’. Along with that should be the explanation that one grade isn’t worth the overall loss of learning that you will experience by sitting in school while you’re truly sick.

On the other hand, as parents, we shouldn’t allow our children to ‘be sick’ a lot either. That can cause huge gaps in the learning process that may become too overwhelming to fix.

If a child you know tends to be sick a lot, though, there may be some underlying causes which should be searched out. Perhaps they are struggling with a class or skill in school. A learning center trained in uncovering and fixing these underlying problems is a good place to start looking for help.

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