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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
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My five yr old grandsons daycare teacher for the past two

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My five yr old grandson's daycare teacher for the past two years has had a stroke and won't be returning to work until after he has graduated from preschool and gone on to kindergarten. Wondering how to best addressed what may be going on in his little mind. He felt like he was her special student because we held him back to delay kindergarten entry a year and allow him to mature a bit more. He is the only child in his classroom to have Miss Annette for two years. This will be the first person in his young life to have left him behind, so to speak. Any advice on how we adults should handle? Thanks.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


At his age, your grandson has limited understanding of how illnesses such a stroke affect someone. So in order to explain this to him, it needs to be done using simple terms.


  • If you can, give him an example of someone he knows who was sick before and recovered so he has a framework to understand what is happening.
  • Let him know that the doctors are helping his teacher and she is working on getting better herself.
  • Be open and honest. For example, if he asks if his teacher will die, say you are not sure not sure but you think she will be ok and so do the doctors. Children can sense honesty and being honest helps them feel better about the situation.
  • If he asks, let him know what is wrong with his teacher. Give him a very short explanation on how it affects his teacher and why she can't teach right now.
  • Let him ask any questions he may have. Answer them the best you can. Let him know if you do not know the answer.
  • If he wants to, let him draw a picture for his teacher and if you can, send it to her or leave it at the school for her.
  • If you attend church or believe in God, encourage your grandson to pray for his teacher. It will give him a sense of control and hope that she will recover. It also helps him feel he can do something to help her.

I hope this has helped you,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

When we say the teacher is sick, then when he is sick or Grandpa is sick, I guess that is why it's important to give the sickness an identity? For instance, a stroke is a serious kind of "sick" whereas a cold is something everybody gets?

Yes, it is important to let him know what kind of illness so you can separate an illness such as a cold from something more serious. Just be sure you don't give more comparisons than that because it could confuse him, unless he asks for more. Let him know that a cold is something every one gets and it goes away in a few days but a stroke involves the brain and takes longer to feel better- a simple explanation like that. He should do fine understanding that comparison. He may want to know more about how a stroke works and that is ok too. Sometimes kids feel anxious that they might get the illness so it's important to let him know that adults get strokes and they happen only for certain reasons, etc.



Edited by Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC on 2/4/2011 at 5:57 PM EST
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