How to Help a Child With Allergies Be Comfortable at School
Allergies At School
Having a child with allergies can be scary. Sending them off to school with allergies can be even scarier! We cannot be around to watch everything that goes into our children's mouths while they are at school.
My son is severely allergic to peanuts. He just began Kindergarten last month. They do have a peanut-free table and I do pack a lunch for my son, but there is always the chance that a friend could give him a snack that looks safe to the kids, but contains peanuts.
I have found a few ways to make my child with allergies more comfortable at school. I have found tips online and we spoke to the school nurse, my sons teacher and our Allergist about our concerns and they have given me tons of useful information to make him more comfortable at school.
1. Talk To The Staff At Your Child's School
It is very important that you talk to your child's teacher and school nurse to give them information about your child's allergies. Speaking to the Cafeteria manager is a good idea too. Your child's teacher is the adult your child will spend the most time with while they are in school. They will watch out for your child. They are responsible for your child's safety while they are with them, so give them as much information as you can.
Most schools either keep an Epi-Pen Jr at the Nurse's office or in the classroom with your childs teacher or both. If they see that your child is having an allergic reaction to food, most teachers are trained to give the child an Epi-Pen Jr injection and to call 911. Make sure your child's teacher knows what to do. If the Nurse's office is far from your child's classroom, make sure you have an Epi-Pen Jr in your child's classroom.
Talk to the Cafeteria manager to find out if they have any guidelines on foods that some children are allergic to, like: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, etc. Also, ask to see if the cafeteria monitors are trained to tell if a child is is showing signs of an allergic reaction to food and if they know what to do in case an allergic reaction does happen.
2. Pack A Lunch Or Watch The Menu
If you pack a lunch for your child with allergies, you can monitor what he or she eats for lunch each day. The only thing you will have to worry about is other children sharing food with your child. Most schools have peanut-free tables where kids with peanut allergies can sit. They can normally invite a friend or two as long as the friend packs a peanut-free lunch or gets a peanut-free lunch from the school.
A lot of schools have adopted a peanut-free lunch menu. If your child is allergic to peanuts and goes to one of these schools, they are safe to get a school lunch with everyone else. Our school has substituted sun butter for peanut butter. Sun butter is made from ground up sunflower seeds and tasted similar to peanut butter. If your child's school does not send a paper-copy of the menu home, you can usually find it on the school's website.
If your school does not have a peanut-free menu, you can either pack a lunch for your child or talk to the administration at their school to see if they can make substitutes to their menu to make it for the children who do have food allergies. Also, request a copy of the lunch menu. If it shows that their are no peanut products in the menu that day, your child with allergies can have the choice of packing a lunch or buying a lunch at school. allergy-friendly
3. Volunteer At Your Childs School
Many parents with children with allergies volunteer in the lunchroom or in the child's classroom. This way, they can monitor what goes on in the school and more specifically in the classroom and cafeteria.
If you have time, talk to your child's teacher or principal to see if you can volunteer to work in the classroom or lunchroom. You can also volunteer to help out during parties where children and their families may bring in foods that contain things that your child is allergic to.
4. Make A List Of Allergy-Free Foods
During food-related class parties, send a helpful list of foods that your child is not allergic to and foods they are allergic to. You can also let them know where the allergen-free items are sold.
My son's kindergarten teacher requested that I send a list of items that are peanut-free to her so she can request some of these foods on her party-food request list. I listed the item and where it could be bought.
Food Allergy Poll
Does Your Child Have Food Allergies?
5. Educate Your Child With Allergies
As a child with allergies gets older, they understand more about what they need to do to avoid having an allergic reaction and what to do if they do have an allergic reaction.
Some things that every child with allergies needs to know is to never share food, always have mom or dad check labels, and always tell a grown-up if they feel sick. They should also wash their hands regularly just in case a friend may have been eating the food your child is allergic to.
Parents can also make flash cards with different foods on them and ask if this is safe for them to eat. Include a lot of foods that they are allergic to on these cards. For example, if a child is allergic to peanuts, include pictures of peanuts and peanut butter.
Once a child can read, teach him how to recognize the word for the food they are allergic to. For instance, my son is allergic to peanuts. I have been showing him the word 'peanut' and having him spell the word out.
Once he or she can recognize the word, show your child where to find the ingredient list on the outside of the food package. At the bottom of the ingredient list, there are usually a few bold words that state if there is a possible allergen.
Have them look at the bold words at the bottom of the ingredient list to see if they recognize the allergen word. This will help when they are in school and it will help them for the rest of their lives!
6. Allergy Bracelets For Kids
Allergy bracelets are worn on the wrist of the child with allergies to let others know not to give the child foods that they are allergic to. I bought 3 of these bracelets for my son and he loves them. His pediatrician and allergist thought they were a wonderful idea.
They come in different colors and sizes. The silicone wristbands are comfortable and can be worn day and night and can even be worn in the bath. They look cool, so the kids don't mind wearing them. You can get these bracelets for different allergies too!
Fitting In At School
© 2012 Melanie Casey