More Than Just The Sniffles: Going Back to School With A Serious Illness

Going back to school after 3 long months of beaches, popsicles, fireworks and freedom can be a difficult transition for even the healthiest child but for a child dealing with a new diagnosis, going back to school can seem downright daunting.

As a pediatric oncologist and mother to 2 children who’ve had their fair share of illnesses, I know firsthand how hard it is to watch your kids return to school when they are coping with allergies, asthma, or even cancer. By following the advice below, I hope to help ease some of the guilt and anxiety parents may be feeling.

Knowledge Is Power

Talk to your children about their illness and explain to them that there are many other children (and even adults!) who have had to go through the same things. This will help to demystify their illness

Familiarize your child with their medications and spend some time over the summer creating a structured routine. If they have a specific medicine schedule during the summer, then the transition into the school year will be less shocking for them.

Discuss With Their Friends

A week or so before school starts have your child’s closest friends over for a fun sleepover or barbecue party. The key here is to make sure they’re having <emfun

If your child is returning to school with a close group of friends that they can trust and rely on, it will make them feel safe and comfortable. While it’s good to make sure their friends know about their medical issues, it’s best not to single them out and make a big deal out of it.

Keep Them Connected

If your child is going back to school mid-way through the year or will be missing a lot of school throughout the year due to doctor’s appointments and sick days, make sure you keep them connected through social media.

Ask the teachers to encourage your child’s classmates to stay in touch via emails, letters, and even Facebook, to help keep your child involved in the classroom community.

Don’t Stress!

Try and stay as stress-free as possible. As a parent, anything you feel will automatically be transferred to your child. Take care of yourself – get as much sleep as you can, and find support groups to help you. Do you have any other thoughts on how to stay stress-free while helping your child go back to school?

Published on: August 19, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Maitland DeLand

Maitland DeLand, M.D. is a radiation oncologist who specializes in the treatment of cancer in women and children. In The Great Katie Kate series, Dr. DeLand calls on both her professional and personal experience to help children facing various illnesses. For more information, visit:

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