Ryan Stays Connected

Ryan stays connected

When he was 10 years old, Ryan was diagnosed with a serious illness which meant he was away from school for a long time for treatment. The school community rallied around his family, with food hampers, cards and letters of support, and offers to babysit his little sisters when necessary. The P&C organised a raffle and, with the money they raised, bought Ryan a tablet computer.

When the first shock of diagnosis wore off, Ryan and his family decided they needed to find new routines to manage the long days Ryan spent in hospital and recovering at home in isolation. Ryan was frightened, lonely and bored, and missed his friends and the hustle and bustle of school life.

Ryan’s mother approached his school to discuss ways of keeping Ryan connected to his class and his education. In a meeting with Ryan’s teacher and the deputy principal, it was agreed that:

  • Ryan’s teacher would prepare a package of work materials for Ryan every week, and his mother would collect this on Tuesday morning and return it on Friday afternoon. His teacher would be given an extra hour of release time every week to plan and prepare for her work with Ryan.
  • The school librarian would help Ryan’s teacher to put material on the school intranet for Ryan to access and work on when he felt well enough, and would make sure that Ryan and his parents knew how to get access to Ryan’s account.
  • Ryan’s teacher would have a computer in her classroom which could be used to connect with Ryan via an online video link-up. Although it was against school policy to allow video link-ups in class, the teacher argued successfully for an exception in this case, to comply with the Disability Standards for Education. Ryan’s teacher wrote a letter to the families of all the other students in the class, explaining the circumstances and seeking their permission for the students to be involved in the online video session, and they all agreed. The video link-ups took place once or twice a week, and could be quickly and easily re-scheduled as necessary.

When Ryan was well enough to return to school, he was delighted to be re-united with his friends, with whom he had been able to keep in touch via the Internet, and also to find that he was not at all behind in maths. However, he found handwriting difficult, and so for a while his teacher gave him practice exercises for homework and extra time to complete writing assignments.

Now, you would never know that anything had happened.