Return to Learn After a Concussion

When can my child return to school?

It will depend on your child. Every child’s injury and recovery is unique and requires careful observation from parents and doctors. You can promote recovery and prevent ongoing symptoms by following a “return to learn” plan like the one below. Your doctor will customize this plan based on your child’s recovery, and your child will move through the plan at his or her own pace.

Video FAQs on "return to learn" plan after a concussion

Return to learn plan

Step 1

Immediately after a concussion, complete cognitive (thinking, processing) rest is beneficial to help reduce your child's symptoms.

  • This may mean no school, no homework, no computer, no texting and no video games, and it may mean no TV if it makes symptoms worse. In general, it is beneficial to minimize screen time. As symptoms improve, slowly reintroduce light cognitive activity.
  • Initial activities may include watching TV, listening to audio books, drawing and cooking, as long as they do not increase symptoms.

Step 2

Light cognitive activity can be resumed once your child has had significant improvement in symptoms at rest.

  • Your child may do activities that do not cause symptoms to get worse.
  • Initially, your child may only tolerate five to 15 minutes of work at a time. Stop the activity when moderate symptoms develop.
  • Your child may increase the length of cognitive activity as long as symptoms do not worsen significantly or as long as symptoms improve with less than a 30-minute break.

Step 3

School-specific activity should be increased gradually:

  • When feeling better, your child should try to do some schoolwork at home and increase the duration as tolerated.
  • Your child should continue to participate in this activity in short bursts of time (up to 30 minutes) as tolerated and then work up to longer time periods.

Step 4

Follow these guidelines to determine when your child is ready to return to school:

  • When your child is able to do one to two hours of homework at home for one to two days, she may try to return for a half day of school. Alternately, if your child is able to do three to four hours of homework at home for one to two days, she may try to return to school for a full day.
  • If symptoms develop while your child is at school, she should take a break in a quiet, supervised area until symptoms resolve. When symptoms resolve, she may return to class.
  • If symptoms do not resolve, your child should go home.
  • Your child may increase her time in school as tolerated.

Call 911 if your child has any of the following symptoms

  • Seizures (twitching or jerking movement of parts of the body; may look stiff)
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Confused, restless or agitated
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Difficult to arouse or unable to awaken
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloody or clear fluid from the nose or ears

Reviewed on April 23, 2014