School and Older Children with Cancer
In the emotionally exhausting days after diagnosis, informing the school does not occur to most parents.
However, this should be a priority when your affected child or her siblings are of school age.
Good communication with teachers from the start will help you develop invaluable collaboration throughout your child’s treatment and recovery.
A good relationship with your children’s teachers will go a long way to ensuring your affected child, brothers and sisters feel welcome and cared for at school.
Identify a suitable person to liaise with you, the hospital and school, to maintain the flow of information. This person is called an education advocate, and may be a hospital social worker, child life specialist, nurse, hospital or school nurse or guidance counselor.
When seeking an education advocate, look for effective organizational and communication skills and ensure the person has good understanding of the education system. You must also have personal confidence and trust that the individual will work in the best interests of your child.
Stay in Touch
If your child is to receive treatment over a long period of time, regular updates will be very important. Update on your child’s medical condition and treatment, and emotional well-being of all your school age children. The school can then discuss education during absence, and a proposed date for returning to school.
If your child is absent from school for an extended period, staying in contact with teacher and classmates will be vital to her personal well-being. Encourage your child and classmates to stay in touch, and let the teachers know any restrictions in visiting or gifts sent to the hospital.
Exchanging cards, letters, telephone calls, photos, artwork, and audio or video messages are all simple ways in which the affected child can continue to feel involved with school life.
Educate About Retinoblastoma
Many misconceptions exist about cancer, especially in children, and there is little awareness of retinoblastoma. Dispel myths and misunderstandings quickly by giving the school information about retinoblastoma and its treatment.
Give the teacher or education advocate the link to this website. You could arrange for a child life specialist, nurse or social worker to talk to the teachers and pupils. Children and adults alike need ample opportunity to ask questions, as this will put fear to rest and clear up potentially harmful misconceptions.