How does my child successfully return to school?

Return to Learn

It is important that children and adolescents follow a controlled, gradual return to school. One of the most common problems during recovery is returning to full activities too soon.

Inform the school and your child’s teachers that your child has sustained a concussion as soon as possible so planning for your child’s return to school can begin. You may want to set up a meeting with the principal, your child's teacher(s), learning support teacher and school counselor to discuss the best Return to Learn Plan for your child.

The Return to School protocol will help guide your child’s return to school. The goal of working through the Return to Learn stages is to increase cognitive activity gradually without triggering or worsening any symptoms.

School work will be assigned by your child’s teacher(s). The amount of time your child should focus on the work will be decided together by you, your child and the teacher.

If your child’s symptoms worsen while doing schoolwork, have them STOP the activity and rest until symptoms subside. Once their symptoms subside your child can return to doing schoolwork.

For example, if reading for 30 minutes produces a headache the child should stop reading until their headache subsides. Once their headache subsides, the child can resume reading, but for a maximum of 20 minutes. After 20 minutes of reading, even if the child has not experienced an increase in symptoms, the child should take a break. After a short break, they can resume reading for another 20 minutes. This can be repeated several times a day as tolerated.

The time it takes to successfully return to learn varies with each child.

How will my child increase their school work?

Usually school work will begin at home where the environment can be better controlled. Your child will start with school work that has a low demand on the brain. Help your child choose work that they enjoy and is one of their strengths. Consideration should be given to how much thinking and stimulation is involved. The work should be at your child’s current level and therefore less likely to overwork their brain.

Your child should not be expected to catch up on missed school work or maintain current school work. Your child’s Return to Learn Plan will provide direction in regards to testing, homework and other learning accommodations. It’s important to provide the school with input from both you and your child when decisions about their workload are being made or when their plan is reviewed.

For some children, falling behind in school work is difficult and this might cause them to increase their workload on their own or they might continue to work despite experiencing an exacerbation of symptoms. These children may need closer monitoring and reassurance to prevent a more prolonged recovery.

Who is responsible for monitoring my child's progress at school?

Have your child’s school identify a school contact who will discuss your child’s progress with you during this process. The school contact could be a school counsellor, teacher, principal, vice principal or other appropriate school personnel. You should let the school contact know how your child is coping at home, including any worsening of symptoms or emotional issues, and any directions from your child’s health care professional that might be important for the school to know (e.g. restricted activity).

Ask the school contact if the school has a concussion protocol. The Return to Learn Planning Tool, Concussion Awareness Course for School Professionals and other Resources on this website can help guide the school to support your child’s return to learn.

For a child who works

A child who both works and goes to school should return to school before work. If your child works but does not go to school, they should focus on returning to cognitive aspects of work before physical activities. Use the Return to School protocol to help guide this process. Once they are successfully back to a normal cognitive level of activity they can use the Return to Sport protocol to guide their return to physical activities.

The Return to School protocol will help guide your child’s gradual return to school