Tips for Educators

Teachers, school counselors, and other educators are in a unique position to help children who have a family member with a life-threatening illness. Ideally, parents and educators can function as partners in the child’s well-being at school. The following suggestions are intended to provide some guidance in being a helpful resource for children and their families facing this challenge. 

For School Personnel

Communicate with parents

  • If you notice significant changes in a child’s behavior or school performance, contact the parent and inquire about any circumstances that might be affecting the child.
  • If a parent notifies you that a family member has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, try to meet with the parent in person to discuss their situation and their child’s needs.
  • Learn what the child has been told, and what information the parent is willing to have shared with other school personnel and/or students.
  • Inquire about any changes the parent has noticed in the child’s functioning, and any concerns the parent has about the child.
  • Share your observations of the child, and discuss how best to handle any problems or concerns that arise at school.
  • Ask the parent to keep you informed, and/or ask if they would mind if you contacted them periodically.

Be supportive to the student

  • When appropriate, include the child in your meeting with the parent.
  • Invite the child to talk with you if needed – then be available and practice active listening skills if the child seeks you out.
  • Work with the child to develop a plan for addressing problems or concerns.
  • Maintain normal rules and routines, being careful not to single the child out for special treatment, but allowing some flexibility to meet his or her needs
  • Be sensitive to material in the curriculum and the classroom that may impact the child, and help the class to process these issues thoughtfully.

Please call Ele’s Place if you have any questions about this information.