Pre-schoolers with long-term illness to get free lessons at home

Summary

The option of keeping up with the class when pupils are home sick for extended periods of time has been extended to pre-schools

Learning at home

Children who cannot attend nursery school for long periods because of an illness will be able to get free lessons at home, education minister Hilde Crevits announced this week. The move broadens the system of temporary home schooling, which currently applies to pupils at primary and secondary schools.

“All sick pupils, including pre-schoolers, are entitled to an education,” Crevits said. “Getting better is the most important thing, but knowing that they are not falling behind and maintaining a connection with their school also contribute to recovery.”

At present, free home schooling for children with chronic or long-term illnesses begins once they start primary school, around the age of five. For every nine half-days that they are absent from school, they can receive four hours of teaching at home, organised by the schools where they are enrolled.

The system will be extended to nursery schools from 1 January. A budget of €180,000 is being set aside for the purpose.

‘A big difference’ for children

Crevits acknowledged that the move was inspired cancer patients’ group Kom op tegen Kanker, which has been supporting home schooling for small children for several years and pressing for a change in the law. The charity’s director, Marc Michils, welcomed the move.

“Since 2014, Kom op tegen Kanker has made temporary home schooling possible for 92 children under five who have cancer,” he said. “We regularly hear from their parents that the teachers’ visits have made a big difference to their child, and even contributed to the healing process. So the impact of temporary home schooling for young children should not be underestimated.”

In addition to extending the system to nursery children, changes have been introduced to make temporary home schooling more flexible for kids with chronic diseases. In future they will be automatically entitled to home schooling rather than having to claim for each period of absence when their condition becomes severe, for example, or because of recurrent treatment.

It will also be possible for the additional hours of teaching to be given in school rather than at home, if this is agreed with parents. In the 2017-18 school year, more than 2,200 primary and secondary school pupils benefited from temporary home schooling, an increase of 40% compared to 2014-15.

Photo courtesy Bednet