For Teachers

Tips to support a child with a chronic illness in the classroom

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Working With Parents

Nobody knows the needs of a student with a chronic illness better than a parent. Communication and respect are vital components to any teacher’s relationship with parents—and that applies to parents of students with chronic illnesses as well.

“To maintain a partnership with the family, it’s really important to know and understand what the child is going through, what the family is going through, so that you can best support them in the education setting,” says elementary school teacher Kristal Peterson in this video.

At an initial meeting, you can set a regular time to check in together. Parents can provide helpful information about the student’s educational and health history, and answer any questions you might have (see the worksheet below for suggestions). You can also review your role and identify any additional training you might need.

Once you have established a line of communication, you can work with the parent(s) to plan for absences and transitions back to school.

Remember, parents of children with chronic illnesses are under a lot of stress. Be respectful and patient. Listen with an open mind to their concerns, and demonstrate a willingness to solve problems together. It may take time to build trust, but the partnership will benefit everyone involved.


Meet three parents, Stacey, Laura, and Yvette, whose children have a chronic illness. The parents describe their children’s symptoms and the challenges of balancing a chronic illness with school.

Teachers and school nurses can be enormously supportive in helping your child manage his or her chronic illness. Parents discuss some of the rewarding experiences they’ve had with their child’s school.

Listen to teachers discuss the importance of communicating and forming a strong relationship with the parents of children with chronic illnesses.

Hear from an elementary school principal about the challenges of teaching a child with a chronic illness and the recommendations she has for teachers.


Gather information from parents

Use the suggestions in this worksheet to ask parents useful questions about your student’s chronic illness.
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