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John Hunter Hospital School

John Hunter Hospital School

School, Family, Community

Telephone02 4985 5090

Information for teachers

Treatment for cancer may include a student being absent from school from a period of months to years.

The length of time can become an issue and when the child returns to school this can present some major challenges. These issues may be both physical and emotional. The possibility of learning difficulties emerging in the years following treatment for cancer is a growing area of concern.

Physical issues

Physical issues include:

  • fatigue
  • difficulty in organising and planning
  • poor short-term memory
  • poor concentration
  • difficulty following instructions
  • difficult retrieving information
  • problems staying on task
  • fine motor difficulties e.g. handwriting
  • changes in physical appearance
  • scarring¬†¬†
  • amputation
  • speech and language difficulties.

Emotional and social issues

Emotional and social issues include:

  • Mature speech patterns as a result of socialisation with adults.These patterns may mislead people into believing the child is advanced cognitively. The reality is often these more mature speech patterns mask the real or actual development of the child.
  • The death of friends made during treatments will intensify the child's concerns about their survival chances. This can cause risk-taking behaviour in teenagers and young adults.
  • Feelings of nausea and vomiting, especially anticipatory nausea prior to a scheduled treatment.
  • Somnolence, with the child not sleeping at night and then having difficulty waking up in time to arrive at school on time.
  • Isolation from peer group due to extended periods spent away from school resulting in loneliness and inability to interact on an age appropriate level with peers.

Camp Quality Puppet Show

The McDonald's Camp Quality Puppets, is a live, interactive educational program for primary schools. Through the use of state-of-the-art puppets, children learn how to be supportive of children who are living with cancer and their siblings. The program informs and educates, resulting in greater sensitivity and support for children who face medical challenges. The program is free of charge and helps every child make sense of cancer in a non-threatening safe and honest environment, reducing their fears and misunderstandings around cancer.

To request a puppet show for your school, fill out the form on the Camp Quality website.

Ronald Mcdonald Learning Program

The Ronald McDonald Learning Program offers Professional Development for teachers providing information and educational strategies that can be applied to children with a diverse range of illnesses. A one hour professional development session accredited by the NSW Institute of Teachers can be arranged for schools for free, to help teaching staff.

To apply for EDMed, a free, one hour professional development session, fill out the form on the Ronald McDonald Learning Program website.