Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dealing with Food Allergies at School- How to Keep Your Child Safe

Sending your child to kindergarten or preschool for the first time is nerve-wracking enough, but when your child has food allergies, it’s even scarier. Parents with food-allergic children have many worries and concerns such as, “Will teachers know what to do if my child has a reaction at school” and “Will the parents of my child’s classmates be understanding of my child’s allergy?

Because food allergies are so common these days (more than 3 million U.S. students have food allergies), schools are growing more and more adept at how to safely deal with children with food allergies. In fact, most schools have a food allergy management policy. But what are some things you can do as a parent to try to keep your child safe at school? By working with the school’s administration and directly with your child and your child’s teacher, these are some tips to help your child stays safe:

- Make sure your child knows his or her own food allergies. If they are too young to retain this information, have your child wear a medical bracelet with his or her food allergy information on it.

- Make sure you fill out any forms asking about food allergies as thoroughly as possible. Because some classrooms are quite crowed and teachers might not know your child right away, put a picture with the food allergy forms so your teacher will immediately put a face with the allergy information.

- Tour your child’s school before the beginning of the school year and meet with both the school’s administration and your child’s teachers to discuss your child’s allergy and allergy-triggers. Also meet with any other adults that might care for your child during the school day, such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teachers of special classes, such as music, art or physical education, and of course, the school nurse. You never know where a food allergy might occur!

- Have your child’s allergist write out clear, specific information on your child’s allergy, instructions on how to recognize an allergic reaction, and what to do should one occur.

- Let your child’s teacher and the school administration know that you want to work with them to keep your child safe at school and that you wish to minimize the disruption in the classroom.
- Teach your child how to say “no thank you” when offered food not given from home. Also teach your child to not do “food trading” during lunch or snack.

There are so many other valuable tips on how to deal with food allergies in the school system. A few Web sites to check out are:

What are some tips you have on how to deal with food allergies at school? Please leave your tips in the comments section. We can all learn from each other!

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