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Your goal as a parent is to be your child’s advocate in navigating their world both in and out of school. It is important to check with your child as to what s/he wants the teacher/class to know. Some children prefer to keep this information private. Their desire is to fit in rather than be different. Others may be relieved to know that everyone already knows. Both are valid and need to be considered.

If the child does choose to make the class aware the teacher should inform the class prior to the child returning to school.  Also inform the teacher of what information your child has been told about the death. Open and ongoing communication between the child, parent and teacher is best for your child.  What is communicated may need to be reevaluated as the child moves from grade to grade or moves on to another school.

Remember that there are other people in your child’s school such as; social worker, school psychologist, school nurse and councilors who may be a resource to you and your child. It can be helpful to develop a plan between the child, parent and teacher to best address these issues should they arise.

Some issues that may arise:

  • Difficulty concentrating and/or being attentive

  • Decrease in academic performance and grades may go down

  • Overachievement and desire to be perfect

  • Physical reactions such as headaches, stomachaches

  • Difficulty completing assignments on time

Sensitivity to holiday celebrations and activities such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is important. The child can be part of the decision as to how to handle these situations. Would they like to make a card for the deceased parent? Would they rather make a card for another significant adult? Or would they prefer to simply not participate?

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