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Parents as Advocates

Keeping up with school during treatment

To make sure your child can keep up with school as much as possible during treatment, it’s important to be your child’s advocate.

Being an advocate means promoting the needs of your child and making sure they are being met. Parents are excellent in this role because they know their child better than anyone.

Father and daughter in gentle embrace, looking at each other

Even while in or following treatment for cancer, promoting the needs of your child and communicating regularly and in a positive manner will help ensure your child's progress in school.

However, parenting a child with cancer has many stresses and time demands. Your days are filled with making treatment decisions, parenting concerns, and family matters. So you may want to ask a trusted family member or friend to help you stay on top of your child’s schooling. Also, your worship or community center may have resources and people who can help. You may also ask hospital school personnel about resources for advocacy. Many times, they can help to provide those advocacy services.

Once a school plan for your child has been established, the advocate should work with the school and hospital to re-evaluate the plan often, so it can be changed when necessary:

Keys to being an effective advocate:

  • Make sure educators are aware of the impact the child’s illness will have on learning and the ability to complete assignments. Explain that sometimes appearances are deceiving. Cancer patients may seem healthy on the outside, but they are too sick to attend school. For example, just because a patient attends a school football game one Friday night does not mean the patient is ready to attend school full-time.
  • Alert the school to changes in the student’s treatment schedule or side effects.
  • Determine what’s working well and what’s not working. If there is a problem, determine its cause and find a solution.
  • Be flexible and reasonable. Remember that educators have other students and responsibilities. Allow them time to respond to your requests.
  • If the school’s representative is not responding to your needs, contact a supervisor.

Keeping communication regular and positive will help ensure your child’s progress in school.

Reviewed: June 2018