Angel was treated over the summer holidays and missed the first week of her new school. In this video, she talks about how she was supported and gives advice for others starting school after cancer treatment.
Social workers Liz and Lesley, and ward teacher Bette, answer some frequently asked questions by children CLIC Sargent supports.
How can I let my school friends know what is going on when I am not at school?
People might send you cards and letters when they find out you are poorly so you can write back to them if you like. If you have a phone, you can also phone or text your friends, or if it’s a smartphone, ask your parent or carer to download apps like Skype or FaceTime so you can see who you are talking to. Some schools can even set up a computer with Skype in the classroom! You could also write updates on how you are that could go on a school message board for your friends to read.
How can I carry on doing homework and schoolwork when I am in hospital for a long time?
In hospital there may be learning mentors who can talk to your school teachers and give you similar work to do. There may also be a hospital schoolroom you can go or your school may have some websites where you can learn online as well. It’s good to have a go at doing some work while you are away from school, even if it’s just a little bit on the days you feel up to it. This will help you to keep up to date and can be something you can talk to your friends about.
Will a tutor help me carry on with my schoolwork?
If you aren’t in hospital, but not well enough to go to school, your school may arrange for a teacher to give you lessons at home. These teachers are called ‘home tutors’ and they will help to make sure you can carry on with your schoolwork. Your home tutor will understand how you are feeling and will only encourage you to do as little or as much work as you can manage.
How can I stop everyone asking me questions when I go back to school?
Your parent, carer or nurse can explain to your teacher what’s been happening while you’ve been away from school. Your nurse or teacher can also speak to your class and tell them why you’ve been off school, why you have lost your hair and all those kinds of things. If you prefer, you could even speak to your class yourself. You can explain some of the words you use like “wiggly” or “chemo” and let them know how they can help you, like being careful not to knock your Hickman line.
I’m going back to school soon. What can my school do to help me settle back in?
Your teachers will have a meeting with your parent or carer before you go back, which you can attend too if you like. Tell your teachers (or ask your parent or carer to tell them) if there is anything you are worried about or need help with. There are lots of ways your school can make going back easier for you, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you are feeling tired you could go back for just a few lessons a week to begin with. Or perhaps you could have someone with you in lessons to help you.
I feel a bit nervous about seeing all my classmates again. What can I do to prepare myself?
It’s okay to feel a bit nervous about going back to school and seeing everyone again. Most people do! It would be a good idea for you and your parent or carer to talk to your CLIC Sargent Social Worker or Nurse about it so they can help you find the best ways to handle going back to school – they may also be able to go and talk to your class about cancer before you go back.
Updated September 2015, next review due 2018.