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Children and teens can usually continue school during cancer treatment.
School helps bring a sense of normalcy back into their lives.
Research shows that long-term survivors who attended school during treatment had better social skills, more self-confidence and were also less likely to have academic problems than kids who were in tutoring programs at home.
Each case is different. Cancer is a long-term illness.
Treatment may take several weeks to 2 years or more depending on what type of cancer the patient has.
After treatment, patients may experience symptoms (known as long-term or late effects) that could impact learning.
It’s important to make a plan for school early in treatment and re-evaluate it regularly.
Developing a school plan starts by asking the right questions:
A hospital large enough to provide cancer treatment for children will have school services to support patients. The format varies depending on the hospital.
Regular communication with your child’s school will help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Consider designating 2 contact people to keep in contact regarding school matters – a school representative and one person with the hospital’s school program. This set-up will make sure information shared is consistent and accurate.
The school may already have a designated person. In elementary schools, often the child’s teacher or principal will coordinate. In middle and high schools, it may be a guidance counselor.
It is helpful to have an introductory meeting that includes parents, teacher(s) from the child’s home school, a hospital school program representative, and the child (if old enough).
This may occur through a conference call for those families who are away from home. Each person can ask questions. The team can set goals.
Topics to discuss:
After a plan is in place, promote the needs of your child and make sure they are met. Older children and teens can also advocate for their needs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may want a trusted family member or friend to help you stay on top of things. Also, your house of worship or community center may have resources.
Reviewed: July 2019