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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Preparing for Kindergarten: Allergy-Edition

One of the scariest things about having a child with food allergies is the thought of sending them off to school...without you. Up until this point, you have been the main person handling your child's food and making sure his environment is safe. It's what you do. It's encompasses your every thought. Now, what seems like all of a sudden, you are having to turn some of this control over to your child and his school environment. Will she be ready? Will she know what's okay to eat and not to eat? Will she feel peer pressure to partake in yummy snacks that someone else's parent brings or will she be able to show restraint? These are questions I asked myself before my daughter started Kindergarten last year. I was a bit nervous about how things would go for her because this is her first year of school. In order to make this a smooth transition and not a fearful one for my daughter, I knew there were some things I needed to do.

First, I found out who her teachers would be. I contacted them ahead of the school year and talked with them about her food allergies to milk, eggs and peanuts. One thing I needed to know was how often would there be special snacks {brought in by teachers or parents} and would I be able to know about them ahead of time. My daughter's teachers assured me that they would contact me ahead of time and give me a schedule of the snacks so that I could prepare my daughter a comparable snack on those same days. They also suggested that I bake a few cupcakes that they could keep in the freezer, along with sending in her own icing that they could pull out on days when snacks were brought in unannounced. This has been a great life-saver!  My daughter's class also has a snack every morning that is provided by the teachers, so I compiled a bunch of handy snacks for her so that she has some variety and can participate in the snacks everyday without me having to remember to send in a snack every single day.

Second, we discussed whether they needed to make the classroom peanut-free. This may be necessary for a lot of peanut-allergic kids because of the severity of the allergy, but my daughter's allergy isn't life-threatening so we opted not to do that. A lot of school do this automatically now anyway.
Lastly, I made a plan for the teachers of what to do 'Just in Case' of an allergic reaction. Thankfully, my daughter knows when a reaction is starting and she can tell us and/or the teacher. They have a chart in the classroom stating if 'X' happens, then do 'Y'. Emergency numbers are listed, as well as, Benadryl doses, and they keep her EpiPen in their desk.

Communication with your child's teacher and school nurse {if applicable} is the key! Make sure to communicate your wishes and keep that line of communication open so they can feel free to text you or call you with any food-related questions. Your child's safety is of utmost importance and you and your child's teachers should be have the same game plan.

Amy Mc Combie a mother of 3 girls, one of which has life-threatening food allergies. Her goal is to inform and encourage those who have food allergies or know people with food allergies by sharing her journey with the hope that they can learn from my mistakes and successes. You can read more about Amy's journey at  www.allergyfree.wordpress.com

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