Starting School

When any child starts school or moves on to high school, it can be an exciting but stressful time for parents. When your child is also a heart child who has faced many challenges, it makes all these feelings more intense. Most principals and teachers are only too happy to listen to your concerns and very eager to know as much about your child’s condition as they can. You may like to refer them to the HeartKids website for further information and access to related sites.

Heart children like to feel that they are no different from their fellow students and as far as possible, should be treated the same as their peers. However, their condition may have some impact on their schooling. If the condition is minor they will be no different from their class mates, however a major condition will have some impact.

Your child’s cardiologist or paediatrician would alert you if there are any specific recommendations for your child. Please ask them to provide supporting documentation for preparation of a health care plan/First Aid action plan.

Here are some suggestions for helping the transition to school:

1. We recommend that you discuss your child’s heart problems and any anticipated effect this will have on their schooling with the following people:

• Primary School – make an appointment with the principal and your child’s teacher.
• High school – make an appointment with your child’s year level coordinator, sports coordinator, welfare coordinator, school nurse (if applicable) and principal.

2. Speaking at a staff meeting early in the school year gives you an opportunity to explain your child’s needs and time to discuss any issues or questions staff may have.

3. If your child cannot keep up during physical education classes or is struggling to keep up with the class group on excursions that involve considerable walking, the class teacher needs to understand and make allowances for this.

4. If your child has specialist teachers, ensure they are informed of your child’s condition.

5. Complete a First Aid Action Plan, with a photo of your child, for the teacher and suggest that it be displayed in the staff room and sickbay, as well as all emergency kits. For high school students some parents suggest keeping a copy in the student’s diary and the teacher’s roll book for emergency teachers to use.

6. Ensure that your emergency contact details are always current.

7. During excursions and camps ensure a copy of your child’s Action Plan is given to the supervising teacher and accompanies the emergency kit.

Please remember good communication is essential between parents and teachers and ask for support from your child’s health care professionals when necessary.

Victoria & Tasmania