As a self-proclaimed school supply addict and overall lover of school, this time of the year always brings a great amount of anticipation for the upcoming year. (New pens! New notebooks! New planners!)
However, for some pediatric and young adult patients who are undergoing prolonged hospitalizations, this time of year only provides a stark reminder that they are not in school, and that they face long periods of separation from their friends and extended family members and a long time away from the classroom.
The following represent several strategies Iíve seen used to help children, adolescents, and young adults with chronic conditions like cancer keep up in their studies and stay connected to their classmates and teachers.
School comes to them. In my previous hospital, there was a wonderful school-room with a head teacher, several assistants, and even a classroom bunny-rabbit. If children were able to come to the school-room, there were always different activities available focused on their developmental and cognitive abilities. If patients were confined to their rooms, the activities were simply brought to them. This method provides interaction and set activities that can help continue the learning process while in the hospital.
Prior to hospitalization, have the child teach his classmates about his condition. An acquaintance of mine shared on Facebook the presentation her daughter gave to her classmates prior to an extended hospitalization before her bone marrow transplant. The presentation talked about her condition, what the bone marrow transplant would mean for her, and why she was going to be away from school so long. I loved this idea, and I feel that it helped to empower her young classmates in knowing exactly why she was missing and what she was going to be going through. I love when patients have notes and projects sent to them from their schools, and I know that helps them feel connected to their classes while not physically there.
Hire a personal tutor. I know this option is not financially feasible for all of our patients, but in situations where the family can afford it, a tutor can help the child actively work on school-work during his or her hospitalization. For longer admissions, such as for bone marrow transplants and extended chemotherapy admissions, tutors can really help children integrate back into normal classroom activities when they are able. This strategy is particularly helpful for older school-aged children, adolescents, and young adults.
Use technology. This strategy may work best for our adolescents and young adults, but if they are required to take a semester or two off, encourage them to inquire about online classes or learning opportunities. There is so much downtime associated with hospitalizations, and online learning is a great way for patients to stay connected and not feel quite as behind when they are ready to reenter the semester.
What other strategies have you seen to aid children, adolescents, young adults, and even our adult patients in remaining connected to learning opportunities and school? Let us know below.
The 2013 Nurse Compensation Survey Results Are In Michelle Bragazzi, BS, RN, 5/3/2013 32 In February, TheONC surveyed more than 600 oncology nurses to find out more about their careers. We wanted to know if they felt adequately compensated and satisfied within their ...
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