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Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.

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Be Your Child’s School Advocate

It’s important to be your child’s advocate to help with school during treatment.

As an advocate, you communicate your child’s needs and work with the school to make sure they are met. Parents are excellent in this role. You know your 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.

But parenting a child with cancer has many stresses and time demands. You may want to ask a trusted family member or friend to help you stay on top of things.

Also, your worship or community center may have resources and people who can help. You may also ask hospital school personnel. Many times, they can help to provide those advocacy services.

Once the school has a plan for your child, the advocate can work with the school and hospital to re-evaluate strategies often. The team can make changes when necessary.

Keys to being an effective advocate:

  • Make sure educators have a summary of your child’s medical history and understand 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 communicating with you, contact a supervisor.

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

Reviewed: July 2019