Pediatric Migraine Attacks: Intervention Strategies for Schools and Educators

Pediatric Migraine Attacks: Intervention Strategies for Schools and Educators


Pediatric migraine attacks can significantly impact students’ academic performance and overall well-being. These debilitating headache attacks, characterized by severe pain and a range of accompanying symptoms, can make it challenging for students to focus, participate in classroom activities, and engage in daily school routines.

Understanding Pediatric Migraine Attacks

Pediatric migraine attacks are recurrent headaches that affect children and adolescents. These headaches typically present as throbbing or pulsating pain on one side of the head, accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and fatigue. Common triggers for pediatric migraine attacks include stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, dehydration, and hormonal changes.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 10% of school-aged children experience migraine attacks. It is important for educators to have a thorough understanding of pediatric migraine attacks to effectively support students in managing their condition.

Recognizing Migraine Attacks in School Settings

Recognizing migraine attacks in school-aged children is crucial for early detection and appropriate support. Educators should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of migraine attacks, which may include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Visual disturbances

It is important to note that each student’s experience with migraine attacks may vary, so educators should be attentive to individual presentations of symptoms.

In school settings, common triggers for migraine attacks include bright or flickering lights, strong smells, loud noises, excessive physical exertion, and stress. By identifying and addressing these triggers, educators can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

Creating a Migraine-Friendly School Environment

Educators can contribute to creating a migraine-friendly school environment by taking the following steps:

Educate school staff about pediatric migraine attacks

  • Provide resources and literature about pediatric migraine attacks to school staff, including teachers, administrators, and support staff.
  • Organize workshops or training sessions with healthcare professionals specializing in migraine attacks to enhance staff knowledge and understanding.

Establish a designated quiet space for students experiencing migraine attacks

  • Create a dedicated area within the school where students can find a quiet and dimly lit environment to rest during a migraine attack.
  • Ensure the quiet space is equipped with comfortable seating, necessary supplies like water and ice packs, and a protocol for notifying staff when a student needs to utilize the space.

Implement flexible attendance policies

  • Allow students with migraine attacks to have excused absences when necessary, as rest and recovery are vital during and following a migraine attack.
  • Collaborate with parents and healthcare providers to create an attendance plan that supports the student’s needs while ensuring the continuity of their education.

Develop a communication plan with parents and healthcare providers

  • Establish a reliable system for parents to communicate with the school about their child’s migraine attacks, including sharing information about triggers, medication, and any treatment plans.
  • Obtain necessary consents from parents to facilitate communication with healthcare providers, allowing educators to stay updated on any changes in the student’s condition and adjust support accordingly.

Supporting Students During Migraine Attacks

When a student experiences a migraine attack, it is essential for educators to provide appropriate support and accommodations:

Train school staff on recognizing and responding to migraine attacks

  • Provide training to school staff on how to differentiate migraine attacks from other health issues and how to respond when a student is experiencing a migraine attack.
  • Offer various techniques to help alleviate discomfort during a migraine attack, such as applying cool compresses, providing a quiet and dark space, and assisting with any prescribed medication.

Encourage strategies for managing stress and promoting overall well-being

  • Promote relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and mindfulness activities, to help students manage stress and potentially reduce the frequency or severity of migraine attacks.
  • Foster a supportive and understanding school culture that prioritizes student well-being, as stress can be a trigger for migraine attacks.

Offer academic accommodations

  • Provide opportunities for makeup work or extensions on assignments, considering the impact migraine attacks may have on a student’s ability to complete tasks during an attack.
  • Work with the student, parents, and potentially an individualized education program (IEP) team to develop a plan that ensures the student’s academic needs are met while accommodating their migraine attacks.

Collaboration with Healthcare Professionals

Educators should collaborate closely with healthcare professionals to support students with migraine attacks:

Emphasize the importance of working together

  • Share migraine logs and symptom data with healthcare providers to aid in accurate diagnosis, effective treatment plans, and medication management.
  • Seek guidance and expertise from healthcare providers regarding medication dosage, potential side effects, and any necessary adjustments to the student’s treatment plan.

Foster open lines of communication

  • Regularly update healthcare providers about a student’s progress and any changes in their condition, ensuring the healthcare team is aware of the impact migraine attacks may have on academic performance.
  • Seek advice from healthcare professionals on how to address specific challenges or concerns that arise in the school environment, such as managing potential triggers or accommodating missed school days.


Implementing intervention strategies for pediatric migraine attacks in schools is crucial to support students’ academic performance and overall well-being. By creating a migraine-friendly school environment, recognizing migraine attacks in school settings, supporting students during migraine attacks, and fostering collaboration with healthcare professionals, schools and educators can make a significant positive impact on students’ lives. Continual education and collaboration between schools, educators, parents, and healthcare professionals are essential in effectively managing pediatric migraine attacks and ensuring students receive the support they need.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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