Childhood Cancer

Your Child in the Hospital

Keep teachers and classmates involved

If your child is hospitalized for a long time, it helps to stay connected with the teacher and classmates. Parents can help by calling the teacher periodically and bringing notes or taped messages from the sick child to her classmates. Following are some suggestions for keeping the teacher and classmates involved with your child’s life:

• Have the nurse or social worker come to class to give a presentation about what is happening to their classmate and how he will look and feel when he returns. This talk should include a question and answer session to clear up misconceptions and alleviate fears. All children, especially teenagers, should be involved in deciding what information should be discussed with classmates and whether or not the child/teen wants to be present.

We have worked to educate ourselves and our son about his heart problems. Now, if David gets teased at the beginning of the school year, he tells the class exactly what’s wrong with his heart. He’s very open and truthful about it and they respect him for it. They are nicer after he tells them. They can respect his differences and understand why he is the way he is.

• Encourage classmates to keep in touch by sending notes, calling on the telephone, sending class pictures, or making a banner. (Other ideas are contained in Chapter 11, Families and Friends: How to Help.)

• If your child is old enough, allow her to establish a page on a social network site so she can communicate with her friends, express her feelings and thoughts, post photos, and remain connected.

• If possible, use Skype® or a similar webcam software program to allow your child to interact “face-to-face” with classmates on the internet, a smartphone, or another electronic device.