Childhood Cancer

Childhood Cancer

Chapter 22: School

CHILDREN AND TEENS WITH SOLID TUMORS often experience disruptions in their education because of repeated hospitalizations or side effects from the disease or treatment. As their health improves and their treatment schedule allows, returning to school can be either a relief or a challenge.

For many children, school is a refuge from the world of hospitals and procedures—a place for fun, friendship, and learning. School is the defining structure of children’s daily lives and returning to school can signal hope for the future and a return to normalcy. Some children and teens, however, may dread returning to school because of temporary or permanent changes to their appearance or concerns that prolonged absences may have changed their social standing with friends.

In addition, physical disabilities caused by the tumors or cancer treatment may prevent children from participating in games, physical education class, athletics, or other activities. These physical impairments sometimes require time out from the regular classroom for physical, occupational, and speech therapies. School can also become a major source of frustration for children who learn differently as a result of the tumor and/or treatment. Some survivors of solid tumors require specialized education and rehabilitation services.

Although educating children who have or had cancer can be a complex process, many challenges can be successfully managed through careful planning and good communication. This chapter covers ways to work with the school to address any educational challenges your child may encounter during and after treatment. It also includes information about avoiding communicable illnesses at school and obtaining accommodations for your child.