Academic challenges for the preterm infant: Parent and educators' perspectives Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Little is known of educators' knowledge of the impact of preterm birth on academic achievement and nothing is known of parental perspective of this knowledge.


    To examine the knowledge of the impact of preterm birth on academic achievement amongst Canadian educators, characterize educators' attitudes towards these challenges, and examine parental perspectives of the educational system for their preterm child.

    Study design and methods

    This was a mixed methods study involving kindergarten to Grade 3 educators and parents of preterm children aged 4-8 years. Focus groups were conducted with 35 educators and surveys were collected from 138 educators and 174 parents. Thematic analysis was employed for focus group data and findings from surveys were summarized using descriptive statistics.


    Themes identified from focus groups included: educators' knowledge was experiential, limited information sharing by parents, and lack of resources. No consensus existed amongst educators on facilitators or barriers in the educational system to help children born preterm. On the parent survey, parental disclosure of medical history was more frequent with lower gestational age. Most parents (94.9%, 130/137) advocated for extended neonatal follow-up and only 59.9% (82/137) expressed confidence that the school was meeting their child's needs. The educator survey confirmed these themes, except educators advocated for disclosure of the child's medical history (91.7%, 100/109). Additional qualifications and experience enhanced educators' knowledge, being a parent of a child born preterm did not.


    Educators are unprepared to address the academic challenges for the preterm child and training is needed. Parents and providers need to be prepared to advocate.

publication date

  • January 2019