Preparing for my heart child to start school

The first day at school is such a huge milestone.  Like many other mums on their child’s first day at school, I was emotional.  My baby was taking another step out into the world; the start of a new adventure. An adventure that I might get to hear about, but not be a part of.  She was excited about this new adventure.  I was part excited-part worried-part sad.  Excited because she was excited, worried about all the challenges she might face at school and sad at the thought of those preschool days coming to an end.  Trying to accept that my baby would no longer be completely mine and becoming ready to let go.

Jessica on her first day of school with the text "Preparing for my heart child to start school"

Letting go comes with a whole host of worries for any parent.  Will they be happy? Will they miss me? Will they be bullied? Will the teacher know how to cheer them up when they are sad? Will they eat? Will they be okay getting themselves ready for PE? How will they cope with this big change in their lives?

 

Then there are the additional worries that come with being a heart parent.  Does the teacher know what to look out for? What if my child is breathless, or cold, or goes a bit blue? Will they call me? Will other members of staff know what to look out for too?  Will my child be okay if they catch one of the many bugs that will end up going around? Will they be able to rest if they get too tired?  So many questions.

 

For five years, I have been the one who has spent the bulk of each day with my daughter.  I am the person who knows her best.  I am the one who watches, who keeps a close eye, constantly alert to any signs that she is struggling, that her heart is not working as well as it should.  To hand over that responsibility for a large chunk of each day is daunting at best.  It requires a huge amount of trust.

 

Jessica’s preschool were absolutely brilliant.  They asked the right kind of questions, they were proactive in ensuring they were well informed about Jessica’s heart condition and they always informed me of any concerns.  Most of all, they made me feel that Jessica was in safe hands.  To me as a heart mummy, that was incredibly important and I am incredibly thankful to them for that.

 

Knowing that the preschool had close links with the infant school that Jessica now attends was also reassuring.  I knew that Jessica’s teacher had already met her, and was already aware of her additional needs even before we had our first visit with her.  Just as the preschool teachers had done, she took the time to listen carefully to my concerns, and to make sure she was aware of what to look out for.  She worked with me to put together a healthcare plan for Jessica detailing her daily care requirements, any challenging areas where Jessica may need extra monitoring and support (e.g. PE), who was responsible for providing support during school hours and what symptoms were cause for concern and the response required.

 

Knowing that the school has taken the time to be well informed and make sure that a care plan is in place for Jessica has been incredibly reassuring.  It has helped me to focus on preparing my daughter for school being a big adventure for her, rather than being a big worry for me.

 

What has been helpful in preparing for my heart child to start school

Having information and resources to help me prepare my child for school

The Little Hearts Matter website has information booklets available on preparing children for school, at all stages from daycare/nursery through to secondary school and beyond.  These have been invaluable in helping me know what questions to ask and how best to prepare my child for school.

 

Being listened to and knowing that I have been heard

Knowing that the school has taken the time to really listen to my concerns and make a note of them is incredibly reassuring.

 

Ensuring the school are well informed of my daughter’s needs and what to be aware of

I was provided with a fabulous template from another heart mummy who has kindly given me permission to share it.  It clearly highlights what action to take in case of concerns, as well as providing clear information about Jessica and her day-to-day needs.

The information sheet I used to help inform the school of my daughter's needs and what concerns to be aware of

 

We are now a few days into the start of school and Jessica is enjoying it.  She has started on full days, which is the norm for her school.  I was given the option of starting her with half-days and building up, but I felt it was best for her to do the same as her friends if she can.  I have agreed with the school though that if she really finds it a struggle, they will call me and I can take her home early if needed.  So far, she is coping well with the full days – like any other child, she is very tired by the time she comes home, but no more than I expected her to be.

 

What also makes me happy though is that I see Jessica being treated just like any other child.  The school are aware of her heart condition and what to be alert to, but it shouldn’t be what ultimately defines her.  She is a beautiful little person who just happens to have a congenital heart defect. While I want the school to always be aware of her needs, I want them to see the person she is first – to focus on what she can do more than what she can’t.  Because most of the time, she is just a normal happy little girl, living life to the full and enjoying every minute of it.

 

Bubbablue and me
Little Hearts Big Love

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10 thoughts on “Preparing for my heart child to start school

  1. Plutonium Sox

    I’m so glad the school are so good with making sure Jessica has everything she needs but that she’s being treated like everyone else too. It must be a relief to know she’s at such a lovely school.
    Nat.x

    Reply
  2. Agent Spitback

    It does make a huge differenece when the school makes an effort to listen to your concerns, take them seriously and work collaboratively with the parents to create a plan. It does put your mind at ease. Sounds like she’s settling down well.

    Reply
  3. Sarah MumofThree World

    I’m so pleased starting school has gone well for her. You must feel really reassured that the school understands her needs and will be looking out for her, while also treating her like the rest of her classmates. Long may it continue!

    Reply
  4. Emma T

    Glad it’s going well so far. She looks lovely in her uniform. What a great, handy template. It sounds like her teacher is spot on. Schools are so used to coping with lots of different illnesses and allergies so hopefully you’ll be confident in her time there.

    Thanks for linking up to #schooldays

    Reply
  5. Sharon Parry

    It must be reassuring that the school are so caring. I’m so glad that she is enjoying it and is being treated just like all the other children. I hope she has a fantastic first year xx #schooldays

    Reply
  6. Nyomi

    Oh that’s really stressful. We’ve found dealing with Arlo starting school stressful because he has a serious allergy. Well done for writing this. I’m sure other parents with these heart conditions will find it helpful.

    Reply
  7. Vicki

    I had the same fears when Elijah started nursery. I was lucky we had an amazing keyworker who had done her homework. Her supervisor too, her nephew was having open heart surgery and came to me for advice! He has moved up now, and is developing amazingly well. Its so hard being a heart mum there is that extra degree of being protective of them, especially when you are handing over control. Jessica looks like she is doing amazing! And so are you well done!! I have another 3 years until Elijah starts school I am already dreading it! x

    Reply
  8. the frenchie mummy

    That is so good of the school to take all the precautions possible. It’s such a big thing to let your little ones go to school, so it must be harder with your daughter. She seems to be in good hands so it’s reassuring! She looks well excited on the pic. I am sure it’s been all ok. #hearttoheartlinky

    Reply
  9. Gemma - Heart Mammi

    Filling out the medical information about Martha had me laughing; I could imagine the horrified expression on the teacher’s face and that she’d be thinking “How did i end up with this kid?” But we had our first parents evening last week and it was so lovely to hear that Martha has settled in like she’s been there for years and that she seems to be able to keep up with the other kids in her class. She is also one of the babies of the class as she has an August birthday.

    I’m glad Jessica has settled in at School too xxx

    Reply

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