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Stay Connected to Classmates during Pediatric Cancer Treatment

Whenever possible, children and teenagers should stay a part of the classroom even when they are away from school because of cancer treatment.

Students need to feel like they are not forgotten. Staying connected provides a bit of normalcy in a world that is anything but normal.

How children remain a part of the classroom is up to the patient, family, teachers, and classmates. There are many tools that make it possible, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

  • School/ teacher websites – Regular checking these websites lets the patient know what the class is studying, about special activities, when assignments are due, and when tests are – even if the patient isn’t able to keep up with work at the same pace as other students.
  • Video chat (such as Facetime) – Seeing and talking to your friends and family online is a fun way to keep up with everyday tidbits. For these moments, patients can feel like a part of everyday life at home – a nice break from cancer treatment.
  • Social media – Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and other media allow families, patients, and friends to stay informed and share photos.
  • Skype – Skype allows patients to keep connected to the whole classroom and other group activities.
  • Websites such as CaringBridge – These sites are helpful because they allow families to share the amount of information they are comfortable with giving out. Some families like to post news daily, and some prefer to share updates occasionally. CaringBridge allows the family to control the information, ensuring it is accurate.
  • Regular emails with teachers – Keeping communication on a regular basis ensures teachers, parents, and students stay updated on how treatment is going and what is going on at school.
  • Monkey in My Chair – This program is a unique way that the patient maintains a presence in the classroom through the help of a special stuffed monkey. The program also helps educate classmates about childhood cancer.
nurse and young pediatric cancer patient taking a selfie together

When possible, children and teens with pediatric cancer should stay a part of the classroom even when they are away from school. Video chat and social media are some tools that can allow families and patients to keep in touch.

If you don’t have a computer or online access, there are organizations that can help.

  • Hopecam – This organization provides patients with a tablet computer and will set up Internet connections with the school and home, if needed.
  • Keep Kids Connected – This program provides netbook/ tablet computers to children and teens with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. To apply, the patient must be between 4 and 18 years old and be in active treatment or ongoing medical follow-up.

Keeping connected on a regular basis will also help tremendously when patients are ready to return to school. They will know more about what has been going on, and the transition can go more smoothly.

Reviewed: June 2018