Supporting Young Children With Cancer
Supporting Young Children With Cancer
In hospital, young children can become used to interacting with more adults than children, and they may need more support from early childhood teachers.
Key points to remember about supporting young children with cancer
- your student may need more support from you when they return because they have been used to interacting more with adults than children while in hospital
- you may need to help them connect with other children and participate in activities
- setting up a medical play area can allow them to play through their experiences of illness and treatment
How can I help protect a young child with cancer from infections?
Young children who are recovering from cancer treatment are especially at risk of infections. It is important that your early learning service lets the parents of your student with cancer know if there are any children at your centre with measles or chickenpox. See: Measles and chickenpox in children with low resistance to infection. It is also important that parents let your early childhood centre know if their children have been in contact with anyone with measles or chickenpox.
How should I answer questions from young children about cancer?
Young children will have a lot of questions about their friend who has cancer. The section on Common questions kids ask about cancer can help provide answers to some of these questions.
How can inclusive strategies help a young child with cancer?
In hospital, young children can become used to interacting with more adults than children, and they may need more support from their early childhood teachers.
Try to use inclusive strategies to support a young child with cancer in both large and small groups. Encourage them to take part in conversations and group activities.
It is important to be aware of a young child who avoids attention and plays by themselves quietly as well as a child with a more outgoing personality.
You may find it reassuring to know early childhood teachers generally find young children experience less teasing and embarrassment about their cancer than children in school.
How can a medical play area help a young child with cancer?
It can be a good idea to set up a medical play area. This can allow a young child with cancer to play through their experiences of illness and treatment. A medical play area can allow them to further develop their understanding and express their emotions about the changes to their world.
Remember to give the young child with cancer time and privacy. Some young children may not want to talk about or play through their experiences at first (or at all).
Do I need to keep an eye on a young child with cancer during outdoor play?
You may need to keep a closer eye on a young child with cancer during outdoor play and physical activities as they regain their confidence and coordination. Remember to keep an eye on other young children to make sure they are not playing too roughly. It is also important to keep an eye out for signs of fatigue.
Can the Ministry of Education Early Intervention Service help a young child with cancer?
Young children with cancer may be able to access help from the Ministry of Education's learning support Early Intervention Service.
The service works with families and early childhood educators who ask for help when they are concerned about the learning and development of young children. This may concern a child's developmental delay, disability, behaviour and/or communication difficulties.
The service can work with children from birth until they start school.
The early intervention teams work closely with specialists from the Ministry of Health, such as audiologists, physiotherapists, paediatricians, dietitians and occupational therapists to ensure children who need extra support can access it.
This page last reviewed 12 May 2022.
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