misc image

Managing School during Childhood Cancer

Jan 06, 2018

Your child’s schooling and socialization need to remain a priority during cancer treatment. After all, school provides a safe place for your child to learn, socialize and grow.

Your child’s schooling and socialization need to remain a priority during cancer treatment. After all, school provides a safe place for your child to learn, socialize and grow. It is a place where kids forget about their cancer and treatments. School feels “normal” to young people and helps them focus on something besides their cancer.

Most pediatric cancer treatment facilities provide support and resources to help your child maintain their schooling through home-based study, hospital education or part-time school attendance when they feel well. There are many reasons why continuing their education helps children with cancer. These include:

  • Ongoing schooling helps your child adjust to cancer by keeping them focused and connected to their everyday life, friendships and community
  • Continuing school helps your child stay on track in his or her education
  • Returning to school after cancer feels less overwhelming when school connections are maintained during their treatment

Keeping Up with School during Cancer Treatment

Your child’s treatment team may include an education coordinator or teacher. These professionals help your child keep up with school even when hospitalizations and clinical visits get tough. They also coordinate with your child’s regular school teachers for alternate instruction.

If your treatment team does not include a teacher or education coordinator, talk with other support personnel for guidance or referral. A social worker, nurse or other specialist on your child’s care team provide this help.

There are many factors for consideration of your child’s school options. Among these factors are the type of cancer and treatments. Talk to your team for guidance in making the best educational decisions.

Home Schooling after a Cancer Diagnosis

Home schooling provides many options today, more than ever before. Many programs provide home instruction, web-based classes and other options without additional cost. Some of these take place through public schools for seamless continuation of your child’s studies in step with his or her classmates. Some schools arrange for teachers to visit your child and work with them at home. This enables children with cancer to keep up with school when they cannot attend on campus, then return to the school during times when they feel well enough and have their doctor’s clearance.

Hospital-Based Schools for Youth with Cancer

Some hospitals and cancer treatment clinics provide schooling, particularly when your child must be in the hospital for a long period of time. Or teachers from your child’s school provide schooling like they do for home-based children.

A benefit of hospital-based school is that expectations stay in line with your child’s capabilities and energy. If only one hour per day can be completed, that works well. As your child’s energy improves, that hour expands to more time. Your hospital-based teacher or treatment team social worker can help explain available services for children with cancer.

Going to School during Cancer Treatment

Some children enjoy going to school despite their cancer diagnosis and treatment. This depends on their type of cancer, treatment schedule, infection risk and wellness. Ask your child’s cancer treatment team when school is appropriate and when they need to complete coursework at home or in the hospital.

Going to school helps many kids with cancer stay motivated and happy. Children enjoy spending time with their friends and going to school on a part-time basis. Of course, there will be days they do not feel well enough to go to school or have treatment scheduled.

504 Plans and Individualized Education Plans

Teachers working for the hospital or a social worker from your child’s cancer treatment team can provide information about 504 plans or individualized education. These are additional support services and include partnership between schools and the hospital.