Children's Allergies and School
by Nikki Johnston
I'm an elementary teacher with multiple food allergies. Here are a few ideas for dealing with a child's allergies at school.
Talk to the principal/teachers about making a "no food-sharing" rule in the lunchroom. We have one at our school, and we enforce it pretty rigidly, even though none of the kids have diagnosed food allergies. (Of course, bear in mind that the little rascals know when the adult's head is turned, and they're sometimes overcome by the urge to be generous. You'll probably need to over-educate your own child about the matter, too.)
Put together a presentation for your child's class, perhaps with the help of the school nurse. If the kids and teacher understand what food allergies are, they're more likely to want to help. After all, being honest, how much did YOU know about food allergies before the diagnosis?
Make sure everyone knows the problem before there's an emergency. As a teacher it's very frustrating to find yourself in the middle of a crisis when you never knew there was a problem brewing in the first place. (I speak here from hair-raising experience!) Contact the school nurse, the principal, the teacher, and the folks who cover lunchroom duty.
Remember the parents of other children have no clue what's going on, and will likely bring contraband to class parties or for their child's birthday. Make sure you send some legal foods for your child to have and to share on party days so they don't feel left out or tempted to cheat. Maybe get a list of kids' birthdays from the teacher and pack a special treat for your child on those days just in case Johnny's mom shows up with cupcakes smeared with peanut butter or something.
Consider contacting by mail or by phone the other parents in your child's class. Again, they're more able to help if they know what's up. Wouldn't it be nice if they called you or the teacher before springing a food surprise?
Okay...I know this is hardly a foolproof list, but it's a start. Of course, these are geared toward younger children. Kids 11 or older are likely to die of shame at their parents showing up in their class for any reason! Then again, the older kids know more about taking care of themselves,too, so maybe they wouldn't need so much help in the matter. Good luck, and I hope this helps!