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The Back to School Program

Dana-Farber / Children's Hospital Cancer Center logo

Many children with cancer receive treatment in the outpatient setting, which allows them to stay in school and continue to develop intellectually and socially.

But when treatment involves frequent clinic visits, radiation, surgery, or hospitalization, and a child is out of school for a longer time, the return to school can be an emotional experience.

Our Back to School Program is designed to ease your child's transition back to the classroom.

participants in the Back to School Program  
Student and family support

To prepare your child for the return to school, we provide individual counseling and family guidance.

Preparing your child's school friends

At the school, we teach classmates about cancer and encourage their support of the returning student.

Guidance for school staff

We work with teachers and other school personnel before our classroom visit, and we provide special programs to increase teachers' understanding of educational and psychological issues faced by children with cancer.

Back to School visits

When your child is ready to return to class, our specially trained staff can visit the school. These visits are designed to alleviate any anxiety classmates may feel about your child's return and to encourage sensitivity and support from your child's classmates, teachers, and other school personnel.

All eligible oncology and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) patients are offered a school visit.

Each school visit is arranged by the health care team directly involved in your child's care. The team tailors the presentation to meet the needs of your child, classmates, and school staff.

During the presentation, we discuss your child's disease, treatment, side effects, medical procedures, and the emotional aspects of having cancer. We also strive to dispel any myths or misconceptions about having cancer.

Our teaching tools vary, depending on the age of the children. Options include:
  • Puppet shows (for grades K to 2)
  • Teaching dolls
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Videos
  • Written materials
  • Medical play

The presentations are followed by a question-and-answer period. Our overall goal is to encourage social support for the child returning to the school community.

Video: Back to School program helps young cancer patients return to class 

Contact us

For more information about the Back to School Program, contact:

Kendal Temple

Oncology Community Outreach Nurse, Boston Children's Hospital

Lisa Scherber

Jimmy Fund Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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    • U.S. News and World Report Best Children's Hospital Cancer logo Dana-Farber/
      Boston Children's has been ranked #1 or #2 for pediatric cancer care nine times since 2008 by U.S. News & World Report.