School and leukemia

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Learn about education options for your child during their leukemia treatment and how to handle their transition back into school.

Key points

  • You can work with your child's school and the hospital to keep education as part of their life during their leukemia treatment.
  • Your child's teachers may not be familiar with leukemia, so it is important to advocate for your child's abilities upon their return to school.

Education should remain an active part of your child’s life during their leukemia treatment so they will not fall too far behind. You can work with your child’s doctors and teachers to create a unique program that can accommodate your child.

The hospital can provide school teachers to your child, especially if their length of admission is long.

School plays an important role in the social development of your child. It is a place where they can relate to their peers, learn the norms of social behaviour, and interact with others. With the advice of your child’s health care team, it may be possible for your child to attend school during the early stages of treatment.

If your child needs to stay home for a certain amount of time, educational instruction at home may be available for several hours a week. Your child's school will decide whether they qualify for this.

Stay in touch with your child’s teachers during treatment

Many teachers may not have experienced working with children with cancer. Keep teachers informed about your child’s leukemia so they can better understand how treatment may affect school attendance and performance.

Returning to school

When your child is ready, they will eventually start school either part-time or full-time. Your child may feel anxious about returning to school after being absent for a long period of time. If your child is a high school student, they interact with more teachers and may be more concerned about time they missed from school. This feeling can be made more challenging if they are preparing for university or college admission.

You can help by communicating with your child’s teacher, guidance counsellor, or principal. School staff can help other students understand how to behave and act around your child. The nurse or hospital social worker may be able to help ease your child’s transition to school. Within Ontario, community cancer nurses (Interlink Nurses) can help instruct teachers and the classroom about leukemia.

Advocate for your child

Sometimes schools may impose restrictions because they do not understand the implications of your child’s leukemia. On the other hand, schools may be too lenient when it comes to academic performance. You may want to be speak with teachers or administrators to ensure your child is performing at their optimal level and is receiving any special accommodations they need.

Last updated: March 6th 2018