Free event aims to help parents of prematurely born children
Parents of prematurely born children are being invited to join a free event to help them better understand their child’s potential learning needs and how they can be supported in school.
The online webinar will be hosted by the University of Leicester in partnership with The Smallest Things, a premature baby charity which supports families after neonatal intensive care and seeks to improve the long-term outcomes of children born prematurely. It will take place on Tuesday 13 June from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
In the UK alone, around 60,000 babies are born preterm each year – before 37 weeks of gestation. Although not all will have special educational needs, some may require additional support at school and in the early years.
Samantha Johnson, Professor of Child Development at the University, who is co-hosting the webinar, said: “Our research has shown that children who are born prematurely are more likely to have special educational needs than children born at term, and may need additional support in school.
“We are delighted to work together with The Smallest Things charity to deliver this free event for parents to help improve school support for prematurely born children and their families.”
Catriona Ogilvy, Founder and Chair of The Smallest Things said: “We know that starting school can be a big step in the journey for families after neonatal care, and many parents worry about the lasting impact of premature birth. This event will provide parents with the information they need about the potential long-term impact of premature birth, will highlight our charity's Prem Aware Award scheme and will give parents the information they need to be able to advocate for their prematurely born child at school."
Ros Richmond from Leicester is the parent of a daughter who was born prematurely at just 24 weeks of gestation due to pre-eclampsia, a condition which causes high blood pressure and constricts blood flow to the baby.
She said: “It all happened so quickly but it was so serious that there wasn’t any choice. Sadly we lost a twin and our daughter spent many weeks in hospital on the neo-natal unit.
“Just getting through those first few hours and days was enough for us because we were thrilled that she had survived. We were told there was a possibility of developmental delays but it wasn’t really until other children around us reached particular milestones that we could see she was walking and talking later than others. It worried me like it would any parent, but through time those gaps have mainly disappeared and she’s now a thriving nine-year-old.
“As a parent it’s so valuable for teachers and school staff to have a greater awareness of prematurity to be able to better support children born preterm who might have difficulties. They’re a group who might easily be overlooked. A greater awareness of prematurity will help make parents feel better able to raise the issue of prematurity with their child’s school.
“I’d encourage other parents to get information and support that’s available to them because it can only help on their child’s journey.”
Book your place on the free ‘How to support your premature child at school’ webinar taking place on Tuesday 13 June from 10.30am to 12.30pm.