All opinions are my own and not that of my employer.
Yeah I know. Reading comments on the Daily Mail is much more dangerous to your emotional and physical well being than the original article. If you need reminding why the Daily Mail is dangerous to your health, please find attaced Dan & Dan's Daily Mail song.
|Joseph in his first week|
One of the things about prematurity is that people seem to think once the child is walking, talking, a reasonable height and weight, that it's over.
That your child is all caught up and everything is just hunky dory. They can start school, do well and live happily ever after. Yes Einstein was premature, and Stevie Wonder and Tyson Furey (see!)
There has been new research which my good friend Edspire has comprehensively linked here, which states that children born prematurely are more likely to underperform at school. (quote taken direct from an article, underperforming makes our children sound like circus seals but that's a rant for another day)
The Daily Mail comments are full of "my child was born 6 weeks early and speaks 7 languages and does algebra upside down in her sleep". Jolly good. My child born 13 weeks early struggles to know when to use the toilet, and to mobilise up and down stairs independently.
When a baby is born very early, like Joseph, 13 weeks, they have a fight on their hands. (And for the record some 34 weekers do too, every prematurely born child is an individual)
They are not weeks full of lullabys and love and fluffy time with their parents. They are full of procedures, time in a plastic box, isolation. Infection, life threatening conditions, invasive procedures, painful procedures. Many pre term children continue, on discharge, to have complex medical battles. Children are born with under developed brains which take longer to catch up. It's not an excuse its medical fact. An incubator with a round the clock medical team does not do as good a job as a womb. Simple.
There's no one size fits all solution. Just allowing children to start on the day they should have been born isn't the solution. It's one of them, and I think it should be taken into account definitely, but it wouldn't have helped us.
You see Joseph was due on the 7th August. He was born on the 8th May.
He hasn't skipped a school year. But there is an extreme and palpable difference between Joseph and his peers. He isn't independently toiletting, his mobility isn't as good as other children, he struggles with self care and he gets bone crushingly tired. This isn't about education, this is about basic ability. Joseph has not fully caught up yet. And that's ok. But it must be taken into consideration. You can't perform well when you are perpetually exhausted. Simple.
He has lost the love of reading at night as he is knackered. His home life is suffering. He needs a bit longer to catch up, and some additional help.
Joseph hasn't got a statement as he doesn't have any identified additional needs.
Ad hoc solutions like sending him in half days etc are not going to work, now term has commenced. Isolating Joseph and making him different from his peers at this stage will be detrimental, and he will not like it.
What I believe is that all children born prematurely should, when they are allocated a school, have an educational assessment and open meeting with the school and LEA and discuss a plan. A premature education plan.
That might involve adjusting the child's start date, it might involve some sort of statement, it might involve nothing, that the child is deemed to have caught up and all is fine and dandy.
More and more children are being born at 23-28 weeks. They have additional needs, and they should be accommodated.
The impact of not doing so is unfair on the child and on the parent, and on the teacher and other class mates.