Accommodating Children with Cancer in Child Care or School

Children may come to school or child care as cancer survivors, or they may be diagnosed with cancer while enrolled. If children who have cancer are well enough during therapy or between rounds of therapy, they may attend child care or school.

What adaptations may be needed?


Some children may be on low-dose antibiotics to prevent infection, but they are usually given at home.

Dietary considerations

There usually is no special diet, but children who are recovering from weight loss from chemotherapy may be on high-calorie foods or shakes.

Physical environment

  • Good hygiene such as hand washing and avoiding infectious diseases. See Preventing the Spread of Illness in Child Care or School.
  • Follow any guidance in the child’s care plan about physical activity, but usually children who are well enough to attend child care or school will be able to participate in most activities.

How teachers can help:

  • Schedule a meeting with parents/guardians to go over the specifics of the child’s condition because each case is unique.
  • Have the child make a brief visit before the first full day returning to child care or school to meet with his teachers and classmates.
  • The child’s care plan will probably need to be updated frequently for a child who is still getting cancer treatments.
  • Make sure the child’s care plans are updated after each hospitalization or change in therapy.
  • Explain to the other children about the child’s condition, especially if the child’s appearance has changed.
  • Children sometimes feel guilty that they somehow caused their condition and may need reassurance that this isn’t so.
  • Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, the child may be more tired or need to rest, but that will resolve over a few weeks.
  • The child may have frequent absences for medical tests and treatments. Often child life specialists in the hospital help children adapt and keep up with any lessons they may miss.

Benefits of being with peers: 

Being with groups of children can provide a routine and the chance to interact with friends, which can be a welcome break from a hospital setting.

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