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Preparing for Your School-Age Child’s Hospital Stay

What You May Want to Prepare Your School-Age Child For:

  • Change in routine
    • Diet restrictions
    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Mobility restrictions
    • Time away from school
    • Time away from sports and activities
  • Separation from peers and caregivers
  • Unfamiliar environment and people
  • Feeling homesick
  • Loss of independence

When to Talk to Your School-Age Child:

  • 1 - 2 weeks prior to admission or when you begin to plan for your admission

How to Help Your School-Age Child:

  • Bring familiar items from home
    • Favorite blanket, pillow, slippers, activities (toys, books, music, arts and crafts, games, lap top) as well as any items you think may be helpful
    • Encourage him to help with the packing to be sure his favorite items are included
  • Create a plan for consistent caregivers (make a schedule of who can be at the hospital at different periods of time)
  • Communicate with your child’s teachers about ways to keep up with school work
  • Provide your child an opportunity to participate in health care — through asking questions and being included in basic discussions

Talk to your child about his upcoming hospital stay and reason for admission openly, honestly and in simple terms. Children at this age are more likely to maintain a trusting relationship if they feel included in the experience and part of the decision-making process. Offer a chance for him to talk about what questions he may have as well as what he may be wondering about. Clarify any misconceptions that may arise in your conversation. Talk with him about ways to share his upcoming hospital stay with friends. 

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