23 answers

How Can My Son Get an Education When He's Sick All the Time?!?

My oldest is four and he's almost constantly sick. He usually has a runny nose and cough and gets really sick about once every six weeks or two months. This hasn't really been an issue until he joined a neighborhood preschool. They only meet once a week, but he's absent more often than not because he's sick and I don't want to spread germs to the other kids and their families. I'm not worried about him missing preschool, but I am starting to wonder about when he gets into kindergarten. Do I just send him to school when he's got that runny nose and cough and try not to think about who he's infecting? I can't take him out of school every week or every other week, can I? He'd get so behind! Do any of you other moms have perpetually sick kids? What do you do about school? Is homeschool my best option (I wouldn't mind homeschooling at all, fyi)? But he's so social and would thrive in a classroom setting, I think, so I haven't ruled out public school. But is that feasible for us???

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So What Happened?™

I was a bit unclear. He's been sick often since he was about 22 months old, not just since he started school. I am suspecting allergies, too, but we just put him on an allergy med last week and then got very sick this weekend. Back to the doctor for us and this time I'll request a more in depth look at allergies and asthma. Any tips on allergy testing would be appreciated! Thanks everyone!

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I have 2 friends whose children have the same issue. One friend found that giving Echanachea (sp) drops every day cleared up the runny noses completely. My other friend took her son to an ENT and found that he had a serious sinus infection and just recently had his adenoids and tonsils removed and tubes put in his ears. Both children were very snotty all the time. They kept them in school because well honestly most kids are snotty.

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Hi L.,

Sorry your little one is sick so much. You didn't say if he has a fever, sore throat, etc... but from the sounds of it...the runny nose/cough, seems to me he has allergies. What's the doc say?

1 mom found this helpful

I am the mother of a 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter and it's my experience that kids build up their immunity in their early pre-school years (by getting sick all the time) and then by the time they are ready for kindergarten their systems are strong and they get sick much less frequently. In my opinion it's one of the benefits of pre-school. Kids who don't go to preschool and don't build up their immunity can tend to miss a lot of school that first year because they are sick all the time (at least that's what our kindergarten teacher says).

Your younger children will probably start to pick up germs from your oldest and may be able to fend them off at at earlier age. At least that's what happened with my daughter.

Finally, if your 4 year old continues to be constantly sick, you might want to look into getting him tested for allergies. Personally, I have a lot of allergies and when they are acting up I am much more susceptible to colds, bronchitis, etc. He might have some simple food allergies that could be affecting his health in ways that are not obvious.

Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.--
Is it possible that he has allergies? Little kids get sick a lot, but this sounds extreme. There are a few things you can try and some things to look for. First, if it is allergies there will be other symptoms: dark circles or puffiness under the eyes, rashes (eczema or hives), constipation and/or diarrhea often, ADHD like symptoms, to name a few. If it isn't allergies then there are some simple things you can do to boost his immune system. Get omega three fatty acids--you can buy them for kids at any natural food store. My little one likes the "gummies". Also, get him a chewable probiotic. Probiotics not only support digestive health, they also support the immune system. Again, any natural food store will have this. It wouldn't hurt to get him a multi-vitamin and some extra vitamin C as well.
Just some thoughts--hope they help! Happy to answer more questions if you have them about what I've said.

I am dealing with the same issue. My youngest son is now five. I have been a single mom almost all his life and he has had to go to daycare or preschool. I can see that his immune system is getting better year by year. It is really hard for me because I have to stay home from work every time he is sick and take him to the doctor. I just keep thinking to myself that he is going to have a really good immune system by the time he gets in kindergarten. I also work on a school bus and we can not refuse transportation to any child so I get to see the teachers reactions when we show up with a sick child. They tend to get really upset when a child shows up to school with green or even thick snot coming out of their nose. We have children that have slight coughs and it seems to be OK. I am the aide on the school bus so I am face to face with all of the children and most of the time I can see it in their eyes when they are sick. The teacher will be sure to tell you if there is a constant issue.

Have you done a lot of research into feeding him a healthier diet? As a brief example, my children have only had Royal Crest milk and eggs from free-roaming chickens their whole lives, and rarely any juice or soda, and they're healthier than every single family of kids I've ever met. We don't eat vegan or anything extreme or difficult, but I go out of my way to avoid packaged & prepared foods because they're loaded with chemicals and other unnatural things which cannot possibly enhance our health.

If your cabinet is full of juice boxes and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, seriously, we should meet and talk. I want to reiterate that that stuff IS NOT FOOD and cannot possibly help your child's body more than the harm it does with all the sugar and chemicals.

I understand that this problem may have nothing to do with nutrition, but I make this suggestion because most people feed this stuff to their children, and their children are sick far, far more often than my children.

If the problem of him being sick all the time just started when he started school I think he will be fine. All 4 of my kids went through what seemed like 1 bad year for each of them. They were always sick but after that year they have been fine. Actually after that 1 bad year 2 of them had perfect attendance for 2 years in a row. I hope this gives you hope that this will not last forever. When they start school they are exposed to so many more germs, but once the body adjusts they will build up some immunity to all the stuff that goes around. My rule of thumb is if they are not vomiting or don't have a fever they go to school. I had to make that rule or they thought they could stay home whenever and when they get older it gets harder to break them of that habit.

I am a homeschooling mom at the moment (and loving it), and just because you are homeschooling (if that's what you choose to do) doesn't mean your child need be starved for a social life. I didn't look at your info to see where you are, but many areas have homeschooling co-ops or Friday school, some church based, some secular, in which you could participate with other homeschooling families. And homeschool families tend to be much more understanding of the need for flexibilty, both in terms of scheduling and in terms of a child's academic and social progress. Many areas have a Yahoo homeschool group that might be a good place to start looking.

hi L....
I was this way growing up, and actually it followed me into adulthood. At 20 I was dealing with chronic fatigue and a broken down immune system. I tried everything to lead a normal life and prevent sickness, but nothing worked until I started on a nutritional product called Reliv. I have now had energy, been sickness free (other than 2 colds) and off of 3 prescription medications (that I had been on for over 16 years) for eczema, allergies and athsma for over 6 1/2 years!!!! This is the best nutrition in the world. I even used it during pregnancy and my boys are so healthy. My 4 year old has never even had a sick visit to the Dr. he has only been sick twice...each cold lasted 2-3 days. It does not have to be the way you have been living with him. I hear people say, "the stuff they get is building up their immune system" but the truth is, if they have a strong immune system to begin with, they don't get that stuff. Let me know if you want help!

Hi L.,
I believe this is the normal case for those children in daycare/preschool, etc. You don't have to put him there! We homeschool our 6 children and absolutely LOVE it. The children thrive and are almost never sick. Their relationships with each other and us (the parents) are so close and loving (even the 17 year old, right down to the 2 year old!). Someone mentioned that kids tend to listen to others more than mom. Perhaps it is true for children who are away from mom all day, and are driven by peer influence. If this is a problem, then with homeschooling, you can work on their character, which is obviously an issue in that case. I want to encourage you to invest the time with your precious children. Before we started homeschooling, I really struggled with giving up my time to do this. In the end, I decided that I had my children to raise and love, not to get rid of them as quickly as I could to have more "me" time (this was MY issue, I'm not saying it is anyone else's).
I think a common misconception is that homeschooled children are not socialized. Actually it's a huge joke amongst homeschoolers because that is what we are always asked about, but it really is a non-issue. Homeschooled children are extremely socialized, but not only with their own peer group. They socialize first of all with their family, which is a very safe environment for them. But also, they tend to do more activities with other children of all ages all the time. They tend to be able to talk with a grandmother (not their own) as easily as a toddler or someone their own age (and everyone in between!). That is true socialization. We misname what happens in age-segregated schools. It should be called "socializing" which happens to be what is "dis"couraged during school. :)Publicly schooled children also tend to discount anyone who is not in their direct age bracket, to include siblings (get out of my room!, I don't want him/her at my party, etc.). This is grievous to me. Of course, there are counter examples to all of this, but I think you will find it an accurate overview.
Seriously, preschool is not necessary at any rate. He gets more out of his time with you than he would in that setting. The whole preschool movement started as a "daycare" for working mothers of 3-4 year olds. It just sounds better to say they are in school. Children need to be with Mommy if at all possible. I understand that there are extenuating circumstances. Please don't misunderstand. But, many just feel like they have to do it because it is such a common thing today.

He can totally go to school with a cold. Most kids at school probably have some germs. My kids seem sick all the time as well when they are younger, but now that they are 7 and 9. They hardly get sick. I definitely think they have been sick so often that they are now immune to most colds. However I do think they bring the germs home to my 19 month old twins. So make sure he washes his hand when he FIRST gets home from school. The only time you do not want to send him is if it is Throwing up, a really bad cold, or something very contagious like Strep Throat. Have you had him checked for allergies (he may not be contagious at all, just have bad allergies).

In my experience with 2 kids, and in my opinion based on other families I know, your child is going to go through a stage where they are chronically sick. If they are in daycare as a baby/toddler, then that's when they'll get sick, if they start preschool at age 3, then that's when they'll get sick, if they start kindy at age 5, then they will likely be sick much of their kindy year. There's no escaping it, only postponing it. Improved diet, vitamins, etc. may help, but I can say that I've tried all that stuff with minimal success. In my experience as well, it usually is a 2-3 season/year thing, so you can expect to have difficulties next year, but I would not pull him from school for a runny nose/cold, etc. or you're right, they will almost never be in school. If they are very ill, then of course they need to be home, but I don't know many kids that stay home in my son's school due to a cold.

I never went to preschool as a kid, and my mom says I was sick a lot when I started K, since that was my first exposure to all those germs. Same with my brother. Both my kids spent time in daycare as babies/toddlers, and I remember them both being sick for practically the entire fall/winter/spring at age 2 and 3. They eventually build up an immune system. While many kids in kindy were 'out sick' a lot that first year, my oldest son almost never got sick - maybe a tiny cold or a 24 hr stomach bug once or twice a season. The upside to waiting though, is that they are older/bigger and better equiped to deal with illness (IMO). Especially, if your kids are prone to ear infections. It gives their ear tubes time to 'grow'(this has been a problem with my kids). The downside, is they may miss more school than others, but I think that's pretty normal/expected those first couple years.

Unfortunately, once your son goes from being at home to being around other kids, he's going to get sick ALOT. Both of my boys have brought home some crazy funk. I give them vitamins w/echinachia & keep them outside to breathe fresh air in & their funk out, as much as possible. Aside from that, & a healthy enough diet, there's not much you can do. Have you had him tested for allergies though? Those are the same symptoms-runny nose, cough... I keep my boys home when they have a fever & when their cough is bad, other than that, they're going to school. My boys keep an asthma-sounding cough for weeks after a cold is gone & there's NO sense in keeping them out for multiple weeks. Use your best judgment-once he gets to kindergarten you'll wander in & hear "that kid" who should have been kept home-that's how you know when your kid should stay home... if that kid should be home, than yours should when he sounds like that.
Be prepared, your littler ones will be sick TONS when big brother starts kindergarten-his immune system will get used to it eventually but your smaller ones won't be exposed daily so he'll bring it home, they'll get sick & he either won't get sick, or won't get AS sick.

If you are in Utah kindergarten is not required so you do not have to worry about attendance that year. He will probably be doing better by first grade but as long as you get a doctors note after he has been absent over 7 days you will be fine.
(Sometimes when I took one of my kids home early due to sickness or they were absent too much but not sick enough to go to the doctor I would take them to the office and show the office that they had a fever and they counted that as an medically excused absence.)
I have an older child who got sick a lot 2nd grade on and I homeschooled her when she hit 6th grade because of this issue but I do not think it is that big of a problem in the younger grades. I agree with what others have said, if your child is sick a lot just help them learn to not spread germs as much as possible and send them to school unless they have a fever, have thrown up, or you can tell they will not function at all at school.
For a child who gets sick often you have to worry about them getting infected not who they are infecting.

Hi L.!

My brother was this way when he was little. My Mom got to thinking, "Is anyone else getting sick". 9/10 no one else would ever get sick. She thought he just had a low immune system and that's why he was sick and no one else was. She took him to the doctor and it was allergies. He also had asthma and she didn't know it. We got a cat and that's how she found that out...it triggered a horrible attack but until then it was showing itself it other ways, making him just look sick. On another note, my daughter was diagnosed with asthma at age four. She kept doing this coughing thing and sometimes she would throw up whatever was in her throat. So after two years of an inhaler I finally found a doctor who said, "when she does that, let's try benadryl. It stopped...allergies were to blame. I would definitely look in to that! Hope he can feel much better soon! Being sick is not fun at all! Good luck to you!!

Unfortunately in my experience, once I started both of my boys in preschool that was pretty much the norm. It starts out when they are little and the good news is that when they start at around 2nd grade they are pretty much resilient little guys. I was much like yourself, would never to take them to school, but realized after looking around that 60% of the other kids had runny noses and coughs too.

There is one other thing you can do to see if something in the center is causing him to be more sensitive and have his allergies tested (which is a simple blood test), if the center is an older building and could have mold and that type of thing, he may just be having allergic reactions. There are simple medications that an Allergist can provide and make your life a little easier.

If you think this is just the common cold, send him to school as long as he doesn't have a fever and you should be good to GO! Your little ones will be exposed to the germs from the oldest one and when they go to school they will probably less apt to get sick...
Hope this helps...

As a former kindergarten teacher, I want to let you know that:
1- Kids get sick. A lot of kids came to school with runny nose and/or cough. Usually it's no big deal. Teach using a kleenex, coughing into his shoulder, and hand washing, and they're not a big deal. However, if he is lethargic, has a fever, or a severe cough (constant, dry/barking, or leaves him out of breath) he should stay home. If he's getting that sick every 2 months I would say take him to the doctor to rule out allergy or other issues.
2- It is important for him to be in school as much as possible. It makes a BIG difference in his learning for him to be there. Missing several days of school every few weeks can leave him horribly behind. It is important for kids to stay home when they truly are ill, but be careful of chronic absences. (Again, if he's very sick a lot, he should be checked out by a doctor).
3- Homeschooling is fine, IF you're willing to totally commit to it. Be prepared to spend several hours a day (and up to 6-7 as he gets into upper grades) with him. I've found (especially with my own kids!) that children will often do more for someone other than mom. So if he's now really cooperative, you may be setting yourselves up for lots of fights. But I've seen it work well for many families who are willing to put the work and effort into it. If you decide to home school, check with your states department of education to find out what requirements there are. Usually there's something you need to do to show that you are sufficiently educating your child, but it varies by state. Even if you don't homeschool, your children will be greatly benefited by your involvement in teaching them. So don't turn it over completely to the school!

Good luck!

1st off are you sure it is a cold or have you checked on seeing if he has an allergy. You may want to check with your doctor regarding an allergy screening. They can do a simple one with a blood test, if it is an allergy they can give you allergy medicine to help relieve his sypmtoms or sometimes with my son who has grass allergy I have to make sure he washes his hair and changes his pillow case frequently so he isn't exposed to the allergens at night.

2nd the rule most of the mom's in my neighborhood follow is to go ahead and send them to school unless they have a fever or other severe symptoms. Teach your son to use a tissue and throw it away each time he has to cough or blow his nose. If he doesn't have a tissue have him cough into his arm or elbow. This is better than using your hand since you don't tend to touch things with your arms as much as your hands. Also send him some hand sanitizer. The teachers in our area all have big bottles available in the classroom for the students to use.

Good Luck with your decision, their are definetely pros and cons to both public school and homeschool. You will just need to make the best choice for your family.

if he is sick that often I would have him tested for allergies, we just did this with my 3 year old, she takes an allergy pill each morning now and walah, her "colds" are gone. She was struggling with allergies all along. allergies will weaken the immune system which will make your child more prone to getting other bugs that come along if you don't treat the allergies. She also takes daily vitamins. I would go in and talk to your doctor about treating for allergies, the kids claritin is in a little purple chewable or in liquid my dd likes the chewable better. It's made a huge difference, she's only been on them for just over a week now and it's like a new little kid running around. it's awesome. Hope that helps.

I think as moms these days, we tend to be a bit over-vigilant about spreading germs. I'm not advocating people running about getting everyone sick with no concern for others, but I think sometimes we take it too far. If every parent kept their child home for every runny nose and cough, the schools would be half full all winter long. The reality is that as they share those sniffles, they are building healthy immune systems and by 2-3rd grades, they become much healthier. I don't keep my kids home for runny noses. I do keep them home for fever, vomiting, diarrhea - or a serious cough (like croup) or anytime they are really ACTING sick. If my kids are happy enough to play & don't have the things listed above, they go to school. And I'm okay with other parents sending happy kids with runny noses to school too. I know my kids will pick up things from other kids & I'm okay with that. We just wash our hands often & hope for the best.

It shouldn't be a problem in kindergarten, unless your kid has a fever, bronchitis, strep-throat, vomiting, things like that. A runny nose and cough will always be at public schools, you usually don't keep them back for that. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Good-luck

I have 2 friends whose children have the same issue. One friend found that giving Echanachea (sp) drops every day cleared up the runny noses completely. My other friend took her son to an ENT and found that he had a serious sinus infection and just recently had his adenoids and tonsils removed and tubes put in his ears. Both children were very snotty all the time. They kept them in school because well honestly most kids are snotty.

It is very normal for a child that has been home to start catching lot's of bugs once put into a preschool environment for the first time, IT IS A POSITIVE! May not seem so but he is building up his immune system.
My son did the same thing last year, went to preschool and had like 10 colds, stomach bug, you name it, however this year he has not missed ONE DAY of Pre K!
To homeschool out of fear of germs I think is extreme.
He will learn so much being in a class setting, around his peers and to be honest that is what preschool is mainly about just getting him used to listening and being in a class type setting. I wouldn't worry about what he is learning if he goes only ONE day!

You cannot keep him in a bubble and kids not exposed to this stuff, if they get sick later it could be worse. Even a trip to the grocery store could expose him, play area, parks. So you would have to keep him inside all the time to prevent it, that isn't good. It is a pain for us parents and nobody likes their baby sick, but they need germs to get strong immune systems. I wouldn't home school, kids need social interaction, to break away a little from their parents and have something of his own!

Do not rule out public school because of germs it is part of the process. We all went through it, he will be fine. Also just ask the policy on bringing kids to school sick, what is allowed (like our schools have very specific guidelines), do they wash hands frequently, do not let him drink from a water fountain but send a water bottle. Just simple things like this will help him.

I do know my daughter had a tough time though when she was younger getting every single bug out there when around kids, ended up needing her tonsils and adnoids removed at 3 and after that never gets sick. Kindergarten she missed six days total, first grade three days and this year in second ONE DAY missed, that is it! So they do build up their immune systems.
So if it seems something unusual to you, more then just the sniffles or whatever from being around other kids, then take him to an ENT and see if something else is going on.

First, you might want to get him checked to make sure he doesn't have allergies. Other than that, it sounds to me like he is building his immune system up- now he's exposed to new germs that his body is not used to and he will get better as his immune system grows. My rule about staying home with my oldest daughter (she's in kindy this year) is that if she doesn't have a fever, isn't throwing up or doesn't have severe symptoms, she goes to school. She knows to blow her nose with a tissue, cough away from people and tables and wash her hands if she coughs into them and after she blows her nose. Other than that, she's built up a fairly good immune system (she actually is on immune suppressant medications due to her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, so I'm more careful with her when other kids get sick, but this isn't the norm). I can tell you, she had more runny noses at the beginning of the year than she does now. Just teach him how to avoid spreading germs, but he should be fine- healthy immune systems require some exposure to the germs to work.

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