The Benefits That Hospital Schools Provide to Hospitalized Children

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The reader will learn that if students are hospitalized and are not ill, there are teachers to continue with their regular classroom studies.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has classes specifically for children who are in hospitals. There are approximately five hospitals in the city where you will find children between the ages of four to 18 (sometimes 19 and 20) enrolled in their hospital. The hospitals that have classes for these children are: Children’s Hospital, USC Hospital, UCLA Hospital (Mattel is the children’s division) UCLA (Neuro-Psychiatric division, Gateways and a few others which are located on the east side of the city.

As a substitute teacher, I have been to all of these hospital schools. The teachers at these hospitals, with some exceptions, do bedside teaching, if the child is well enough to work with. Of course, children who have just returned to their hospital rooms after an operation are indeed in no condition to do any type of school work. However, within a few days, depending on how they are feeling, the teacher will come back to work with them.

Since hospital schools are a part of the LAUSD, teachers follow the same educational program that these students were involved in at their regular schools. For example, if a pupil is studying algebra at his/her permanent school, the hospital teacher will continue with the lesson they had at their permanent school. These children (or patients) are assigned homework. They also receive a report card .

In order to be registered in the school program, the doctors have to sign a statement stating that these kids are able to be in the school program. Parents also have to sign a consent form. These children are required to be in the hospital at least ten school days before they can be signed up for class work.

Children’s Hospital also has a rehabilitation and a dialyses section. In the rehabilitation area, they go through physical therapy or exercises. Children, who go through dialyses, come to the hospital three times a week. They are there until they are 18 years of age. This is sometimes physically hard on them, but they must come if they want to prolong their lives. Some of them are lucky when they are able to receive a transplant. When they reach the age of 18, and have not received a donated kidney, they go onto an adult hospital.

The UCLA Psychiatric division and Gateways take children with psychological problems. At these sites, the students go to a classroom. UCLA Psychiatric division has children from four years of age to 20 year olds. Gateways has only teen-agers. As a substitute teacher, I work with these students. Their emotional problems vary from those who have eating problems, depression, suicidal tendencies, schizophrenia and bi-polar and other psychological problems.

In the classroom, the students are given individual school work in reading, math, science, and history. They are tested before they are given any assignments to know what grade level they can be assigned to. There are also arts and crafts projects they can do, especially if there is a holiday that can be related to a project.. Most students like art so it is a break from their regular assignments.

Some students are told to write a journal about their feelings or their hospital experiences. Many of them feel that it is too personal to reveal, so teachers tell them that their journals will not be read. It is only for them to be able to express themselves. It is felt that this is good therapy for them. Along with their regular school work, sometime an educational film is shown. Recently, I had a class at Gateways, and I showed them Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth.” After the film we had a discussion on how each of us can help protect our environment. I then had them write a paragraph about what they have learned from this film and how they can help our environment.

I find the school hospital program to be an important one. It gives the patients/students a chance to keep up with their work. It also keeps them from being bored and it gives the hospital workers some free time to do other essentials. It also helps the kids who have emotional problems to socialize in a healthy way.

Source: from my own experience as a hospital teacher---Harriet Steinberg