Your child's education

Kura (school) is an important part of a child's life. It provides structure, learning, opportunities to develop social and communication skills and offers purpose and a focus on the future. 

A diagnosis of cancer and ensuing treatment may mean long absences from kura - weeks, maybe months - and this can make it difficult for tamariki to keep up with their work and maintain contact with friends. 

 

A strategy to maintain kuranga (education) whilst undergoing treatment is best planned in consultation with the care team in hospital, your child's teacher(s) and the school's administration. 

During Treatment

At times during treatment your taitamaiti may be too unwell to do schoolwork and will probably miss the camaraderie of friends and the kura environment. Here are some tips that may help during this time. The hospital has a teacher on staff who can arrange for schoolwork to be sent to the hospital and will help your taitamaiti work on lessons. 

  • Depending upon your child's education stage, it may be important for them to do some work every day, if they can, so they do not fall too far behind.
  • Consult with your child's teacher(s) at school and hospital staff (teacher and Social Worker) to determine your child's needs and develop an action plan
  • Encouraging classmates to write letters, postcards, send text messages or post on Facebook can really cheer up your taitamaiti and keep them up to date with what is happening at kura. 

Returning to Kura

When treatment is finished (and perhaps during treatment too), your taitamaiti will be able to attend kura. The prospect of returning to kura can be exciting (seeing friends again) but also daunting for your taitamaiti. They may have concerns about the way they look (while hair grows back), whether friends have forgotten them or if they can catch up with schoolwork and fit in again. 

 

Most parents will have real concerns about the return to kura because it is natural to want to protect our tamariki from harm or hurt. Will my taitamaiti be up to it physically? What about the risk of infection when my child's immune system is still recovering? Will my taitamaiti be teased because of the way they look? 

You may need some help from your care team to move forward here because part of your child's recovery from cancer and you and your family's too is to find a routine again so you can all resume activities that may have been put on hold. Here are some tips that may be helpful:

  • Consult with your child's teacher(s) about the return to kura, discuss what has happened to your taitamaiti and provide information to help them support your taitamaiti at kura (the hospital Social Worker can provide resources). It helps if teachers understand the treatment your taitamaiti has received and side effects that may affect them at kura
  • If your taitamaiti cannot return to kura full time, send them along for a few hours a day or even just to enjoy lunchtime with friends. This will ease them back into the routine and help friends adjust too
  • Ask your child's friends to be supportive and to stay close
  • Make your kura aware of needs your taitamaiti may have, for example, they may want to wear a hat or bandanna for a while, or be unable to participate in sports activities for a period of time
  • Be sure teachers are keeping an eye out for physical or emotional issues that may develop upon a return to kura 
  • Ask a Dean or member of staff to be available for your taitamaiti, should they need to talk to someone at kura
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