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Olga Lizasoáin, Professor of Hospital Pedagogy at School of Education and Psychology at the University of Navarra.
Pedagogy in the hospital
"I don't think a four-year-old child understands what the word tumor means, but there are many who ask themselves, "Why me? These words are the reflection of a child who spent a long time in a hospital and that I remember today, on the occasion of the international day of the hospitalized child.
A patient has care needs that go beyond the medical-physical. A child in the hospital has to continue with his or her activities: study, play, talk, laugh, be with other children. A patient with a poor prognosis also has the right to continue learning, to take an interest in things and to develop entertainment activities.
Parents of a chronically ill child need support and guidance. In order to help both the patient and the families, hospital pedagogical units come into play. Educational care for the sick and hospitalized student contributes to their emotional stability and promotes their recovery. The school teaching in hospitals humanizes the patient's stay and serves as a prevention against certain negative effects that medical treatment and the hospital can cause. Through educational activities it is possible to improve their quality of life and that of their families, to help them adapt to hospitalization and to the status of illness, as well as to reduce their fears and anxiety. Going to the hospital classroom becomes an adventure. Our patient who has been hospitalized for a long time comments: "Going to the hospital classroom turns a long corridor into a path to play, and once there all the children raise their hands with a smile on their face to answer the questions asked by the teachers".
The activities carried out from the hospital pedagogy units focus on the healthy part of the patient, sending them a message of recovery. "There are too many things that remind you where you are but the teachers and pedagogues, with their friendly, simple and sometimes maternal attention , make everything much more bearable." These are child or adolescent-friendly activities that add interest to their day, giving them security and confidence. They work at group, live with other patients and help them readjust to life after illness and hospitalization. "Age doesn't matter here," he says, "a major part of work is the approach to the patients' future. After the disease, there is a life ahead of them and the treatments are difficult to cope with".
Thus, teachers in hospital classrooms stress the importance of effort, encourage responsibility, minimize school delays and prevent mood disorders. The patient points out: "Where do you find the time to study? The hospital teachers come into play, giving classes so as not to lose the thread of the programs of study and thus prevent the disease from closing the door on the future to possible doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.". "I have been undergoing treatment and revisions for years and, from the first day I met the professionals of the hospital pedagogy unit I consider them part of the medical team that saved my life. Their work within the hospital is fundamental," she says.