Though it may not seem important in light of everything else going on, continuing to be a part of the school community should be a priority. For many children, school is a safe place for learning, fun, and friendship that’s far from the world of cancer and treatments. School is the main part of almost every child’s daily life, and going back to school is a sign of normalcy. Most pediatric treatment centers offer resources and support to help make sure your child continues with their education with instruction at home, in the hospital, or attending school part-time when they feel well enough. Here are some reasons why it helps children with cancer to continue with school activities during treatment:
Children’s hospitals may have education coordinators and teachers to help the child keep up with school during long hospitalizations or clinic visits. Hospital education coordinators and teachers might also coordinate with your child's school to arrange other types of instruction. If your hospital does not have a teacher on the team, talk with a social worker, nurse, or child life specialist about getting support to work with your child's school. The school options that may work best for your child depend on many factors, including the type of cancer and types of treatment needed. There are a few different ways your child can keep up with school during treatment, so it is best to talk with your team about the best school options for your child.
During cancer treatment it can be hard to send your child to school without worrying about how they will feel while they are there and the risk of infection. If you and your cancer care team decide that it is medically safe for your child to go to school, the benefits of going to school and connecting with peers often outweigh the risks. Because going to school during treatment takes teamwork, most pediatric treatment centers offer special support in the school to make it easier to go back. Many children will not be able to return to school full-time during treatment but might be able to spend some time at school off and on when they are feeling well and when the cancer care team feels it is medically appropriate for them to be at school If you and your cancer care team decide that your child is ready to return, here are some things you can do that might be helpful if your child will return to school at some point during treatment:
Please see Returning to School After Cancer Treatment, for more information on going to school after intensive treatment ends.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Childrens Oncology Group. School Support. Accessed at https://childrensoncologygroup.org/index.php/home/48-coping-with-cancer/school-support on September 18th 2017
Thompson A, Christiansen H, Elam M, et al. Academic continuity and school reentry support as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015; 62: S805-S817.
Last Revised: October 13, 2017
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