I’m happy to report I’m back on social media after taking the majority of the summer off! It was a much needed break from social media and very refreshing to give my children and my husband my undivided attention this summer, not being completely attached to my cell phone for a change!
With many schools already in full motion across the country, my children don’t start school until next Tuesday. I figured it would be a good refresher to post some quick back to school reminders, a check list if you will, for parents who have kids with food allergies.
These are the main points I feel are important to remember when sending your kiddo back to school safely:
- Make sure you have an updated Food Allergy Plan in place and on record with your school (ie. 504 Plan);
- Re-train all front office personnel on your child’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and how to properly use his/her Epi-Pen;
- Schedule a meeting with the Principal to make sure you are on the same page and are working together;
- Keep 1 set of injectors in the office and 1 set in classroom, or “on person” if your child self carries; (check exp dates!);
- Remind your child to always be diligent and to be a self-advocate;
- Make sure your child’s EAP is posted visibly in their classroom and in the office;
- Schedule meetings with all teachers your child will come into contact with throughout the day prior to the 1st day of school:
- Review EAP, Signage posted on classroom doors, surface cleaning procedures
- Create a “Substitute Teacher Folder” & discuss the importance of homeroom teacher relaying this info to sub;
- Ask to always be notified in advance if there will be a substitute;
- If possible, attend field trips or discuss field trip procedures and safely;
- Epi-Pen storage (ie don’t leave in a car on field trip due to heat/cold);
- Request to coordinate all classroom parties involving food;
- Discuss handwashing procedures & non-sharing of food;
- Keep a gallon sized ziplock bag in classroom with non-perishable foods in case student’s lunch/snack becomes compromised;
- Keep “safe” frozen treats at school for classroom bday parties/unexpected treats (my boys and I make these together- it has become a fun tradition every fall)
- Discuss how you have worked with your child to take responsibility of his/her food allergies and be and advocate for themselves
- Avoid using food in lesson plans
These are just a few of the MAJOR points I cover in my “Before School Starts” meetings with teachers and school personnel every fall. Please remember to always communicate with grace and poise when discussing your children’s food allergies at school. Although it’s very difficult, it also helps if you don’t become emotional. This has taken me much practice over the years but I promise- IT DOES GET EASIER. I almost cried during my 1st presentation to my son’s kindergarten teachers over 5 years ago.
Finally, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to create a “team working” atmosphere with teachers and all school staff. Go out of your way to make their lives easier. After all, we want them to focus on what they do best which is teaching our children!
The work doesn’t stop with these meetings- remember to consistently “check-in” with your child’s teachers throughout the marking period and school year. I like to pop in to the classroom at dropoff and ask “What is working well?” “Where is there room for improvement?” It’s important to have an open line of communication when we have children with food allergies attending school.