A couple of months ago I wrote about my thoughts, feelings and actions as a mom of a child with food allergies. That little one started kindergarten this year, so we’re going to be the ones at school with food allergies. So how did I prepare for the first day? It was easier than I thought, because the schools are so accommodating for children who have food allergies or any chronic condition.
So here are my tips for ensuring that the start of your little one’s school year—whether it’s his first or he’s an old pro—goes smoothly.
Not only was my little one starting school for the first time, but our family had just moved, so my older son was starting school in a new area as well. We had to learn about it from scratch together. The first step was getting in to see a local pediatrician. We did the whole check-up thing, and we talked about my son’s food allergies. The doctor was very kind and even asked if we needed new prescriptions for the epi-pen. I declined, thinking we were good because we already had them. I was wrong. More on that later.
Meet the Teacher, Nurse, Counselor, and Anyone Else you Can
Our school has a meet-the-teacher day when parents and students can stop by the school to drop off supplies and chat with the new teachers for the year. Both my boys and I went to explore the new-to-us school and find out who the teachers were. I was especially eager to chat with the kinder teacher. She was great! She had me fill out an additional information sheet for her use and said I should put his allergies on there. She also said she’d give me a call about snacks to bring since the kindergartners do communal snack time in the afternoons.
Next we met with the school nurse. She gave me MORE paperwork for her files, including one that allowed her to administer an antihistamine and one specifically for the epi-pen. She said I could just send them back with my child on the first day of school. There sure is a lot of paperwork when you have a child with food allergies! When filling out the form, I realized the epi-pen we had was expired, and the school wouldn’t take it! So, I called the doctor’s office and they sent in a new prescription. Guess I needed that after all.
Be Prepared to Buy Extra Supplies
One thing I’ll note about food allergy moms: we know that the onus is on us (little play on words there) to provide accommodations for our children. We don’t expect other parents to assume there will be a child with allergies and make sure he is included in snacks or activities. That means we have to always be prepared for situations that might require special treatments. We often have cupcakes in the freezer for birthday parties, special snacks for play dates, and when it comes to school, this translates into packing lunches. My older son was very excited about the prospect of bringing his lunch. I suppose it is en vogue these days. So along with kinder and second grade-sized backpacks, I also bought lunch bags, a variety of sizes of plastic containers, snack baggies, special silverware for school-only, thermoses and new water bottles! The nurse also said that my son’s allergies will be on file with the cafeteria workers as well, just in case.
If you don’t already have one for your child, you’ll also want to get a medical ID bracelet. School can be the great unknown. Although there are a great deal of policies and procedures in place to keep control, your child is also out of your control for quite a bit of time. No need to panic. Just be prepared by engraving his name, allergies, and the fact that he has an epi-pen on his ID. You can also include your contact information so you’re always in the loop.
It’s day three for my son, and I’m feeling pretty good about the year. By following these tips, you can too.
Written by Guest Blogger Amanda Beck