I once heard a story about a child who returned to school after eye surgery. The child was fitted with an artificial eye that looked like her normal eye. A shock came next morning at assembly when without warning an announcement was made. The principal told the whole school that the child had an eye removed and was wearing an artificial eye. The child was mortified. However well intentioned the principal’s actions, the child was left feeling embarrassed and singled out rather than safe and supported.
This story came to mind yesterday when a mother asked for my advice. Her child was about to start pre-primary and she wondered if we had a procedure we recommend. I told her that I think each circumstance is different. Some children are happy for people to know while others need more privacy. Some staff inspire confidence with their sensitive manner while others may be a little heavy handed in their approach. Parents need to get a feel for the school environment, the teacher and how the child feels when they are there.
The school administration and the class teacher do need to be told to avoid panic if the eye falls out at school. How much that information is shared with class members or the school population needs to be led by what the child wants. Maybe you have a child who wants to talk about their eye at show and tell. That is fine. While having an artificial eye shouldn’t be a secret, as a general guide it is better to let the child tell their story in their own time. You might be surprised to find that for some there is nothing to tell.
We’d love to hear how other parents have approached this. What do you recommend? We welcome your comments.