Learning with Friends is a program developed to provide peer interaction and socialization for our pediatric oncology patients ages 3-6. Patients will be designated into one of two groups – The Bigs (5 -6 year olds) and The Littles (3 -4 year olds) to best meet their developmental needs.
The goal of the program is to create a safe (and socially distanced) means for our isolated young patients to interact with other children their age, to engage in developmentally appropriate activities, and to have a sense of belonging to a peer group. The program is presented live using a pre-school style format over Zoom (2 sessions – 1 for Bigs, 1 for Littles) once a week for ½ an hour on Friday afternoons. Each week’s “curriculum” will be introduced the preceding Monday, in a pre-recorded video featuring Miss Sue, our Certified Child Life Specialist. The pre-recorded video will allow your child to anticipate the “subjects” of the session and prepare to participate with their own “show-and-tell” items. The video can be watched once before and/or multiple times before and after. Each session will have corresponding activity sheets that your child is encouraged to complete and bring to the clinic to share in a designated C4K Learning with Friends area to further their sense of community with their new friends.
The intent of the program is not to educate your child on the various subjects presented, but to use those subjects as a means for your child to interact with other kids, to learn how to wait their turn, to practice controlling their impulses in a group, to stay on task (subject) and transition to a new activity in a group. All things they would experience if they were able to attend play dates, day care programs or pre-school. Additionally, we hope that we can do some teaching about their diagnosis and treatment and help build their coping skills to manage their medical journeys. Addressing some medical education in a group setting may alleviate feelings of isolation and bolster their confidence knowing they have other friends doing the same, hard things.
We are going to start small and slow and build the program as we learn how to manage and involve the kids using this technology to meet their developmental needs. Participation will be limited and interested parents should contact Miss Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org to be included.