For Parents

Tips to manage your child’s chronic illness so he or she succeeds in school

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How Chronic Illnesses Affect Children in School

School is a major force in a child’s life. Yet a chronic illness can make school difficult for some. It can mean missed days, learning difficulties, and challenges making friends.

A chronic illness may also affect a child’s behavior, emotions, and social role in school. “When a child has a chronic illness and they are attending school, it can be very hard for them behaviorally because they’re often out a lot of school,” explains Diana Bice, a school counselor in this video.

However, with educational accommodations you can minimize the challenges your child faces in school. An important first step is to gather information from your own experience, your child’s medical team, and other trusted sources. You can use the worksheet below to organize this information. For example, how will your child’s chronic illness affect school attendance or his or her ability to focus in class? With the information at hand, you will have a foundation to request educational accommodations for your child.


Three children with chronic illnesses talk about the challenges of dealing with schoolwork and absences.

Listen to parents describe how their children’s chronic illnesses can mean missing school whether for an afternoon, a few days, or for weeks at a time. Parents detail how tricky it can be for their children to catch up on the schoolwork they missed.

Hear from a school counselor about how anxiety and stress caused by a chronic illness can affect your student’s behavior and relationships at school.

A physician explains some of the ways a chronic illness can affect a student’s ability to learn.


How to evaluate information sources

This handout provides suggestions to help you evaluate the quality of the information on chronic illness and its impact on your child’s education.
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Organize information

This worksheet will help you organize information about the effects of your child’s chronic illness on his or her education.
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How chronic illness affects children in school

This infographic summarizes the potential effects of a chronic illness on a child’s school attendance, ability to learn and participate in school activities, and emotional well-being.
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