Ideas to support children
Each child will have different needs and will require different levels of support, however all children need boundaries to make them feel secure, especially when their family life becomes disrupted. Being a teacher allows you to give them support in a measured grounding way. Here are some ideas:
Maintain clear rules and expectations. Keep routines and schedules consistent where possible, and explain any changes to their schedule.
Listen and be alert to their feelings, which they may express through speech or play.
Read stories about anger, guilt, shame and other emotional reactions.
Encourage them to have fun at school and participate in activities.
Ensure that they partake in physical activity to enable them to expend any excess energy, get rid of anxiety and provide outlets for aggression that are positive, such as running in the playground.
Take time to listen, let them know you care about their feelings, especially if they are a young carer. Make sure that they know that their role is acknowledged and valued.
Provide the child with further information about cancer and being a young carer, using websites, apps and books resources.
Provide privacy, as needed.
Create a support group which includes the child and their friends. This could be a creative art group, or an active sports group, that get together weekly at lunchtime to provide both space to talk and a sense of immediate support.
For older children transitioning to secondary school, make sure there is help for them in planning their futures.
- Get the child to write a journal of their feelings when at school, which can be kept at school.
- Create a monthly timetable for the child. They can add their parent’s medical appointments or changes in their home life, school events, activities, school holidays etc.
- Keeping track of events like this gives teachers an insight into what the child is experiencing, and the child will feel more in control and more able to manage and organise their own life.
- Design lessons where the whole class joins in. Cover topics such as empathy, methods of keeping calm (meditation, breathing techniques) and understanding who around you is there to support you.
- Create individual worry boxes for each child in the class where children can park their worries at the beginning of the day.
- Create a special folder where they can keep their work, as life at home might be too chaotic to allow this. Encourage positive communication between the child and the parent by periodically suggesting that the folder is taken home.
- Plan fundraising events such as a fun run or cake sale, to raise money for a cancer charity.
- Participate in cancer awareness days that will teach children more about cancer.
Find out how to talk to a child who is affected. Seek professional help if there are any severe reactions.