Posts tagged ‘allergies at school’

Don’t just survive the holidays (and holiday food)…THRIVE!

Christmas is rapidly approaching and with this time of year come lots of Christmas parties and get-togethers with the main attraction being FOOD! Just in the next 7 days, my girl has an event involving popcorn, two Christmas parties at church and school and the traditional (and somewhat dreadful) gingerbread house building at school. All of those things involve food and most of them are foods that are very risky to her health. At this point, I can do one of two things. 1) Avoid it altogether and have her feel isolated and feed her fear of being around those things or 2) Do everything in my power to know what foods will be at what event and make alternatives for her to bring with her so that she can participate like a normal child and teach her to thrive in her environment regardless of food allergies. I’m choosing to do the latter. Her whole life we have been striving to maintain a sense of normalcy for this girl and show her that while she does have potentially life-threatening food allergies, it is possible to be able to enjoy every event and situation involving food. Our ‘normal’ isn’t the same as everyone else’s ‘normal’, but we do our best to help her blend in and thrive. It’s very important to us to teach her that while it is absolutely necessary for her to avoid certain foods, she can have just as much fun as everyone else and not be afraid.

So, here are some practical tips for surviving the wonderful holidays and all the food that comes with it!

1. MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE. Compile a list of all the parties/events that your child will be a part of and make a detailed list of each menu. Mark the items that he/she can have and then make allergy-free substitutes for those items which he/she cannot have. If your child is old enough to understand, then go over the lists with him so he is aware of all the substitutes.

2. GIVE STUFF! Volunteer to bring items for school parties/church parties and sign up to bring items like cupcakes or cookies (or whatever your child cannot have) and bring an allergy-free type for the whole class. There are some things like graham crackers that my child can only eat certain brands of, so in that case, bring only that brand or ask the teacher if she can specifically request certain brands to be brought.

3. GIVE TIME! Volunteer to help at the parties so that you can monitor the food situation. My child is old enough to know certain things that she can/cannot have, but I know that she is much more comfortable to partake if I am there. When she doesn’t know if an item is okay, she will just refrain from eating it. I know some kids may not have that kind of self control, but your child might.

4. HAVE A LITTLE CHAT! Communicate with the teacher(s) as the time draws near for the party/event to remind her of your child’s specific needs. Send a note in on that day, as well, reminding her. You can also have your child wear allergy alert jewelry or a sticker/pin stating his/her allergies so that even volunteers can be on alert. My girl will be wearing her necklace on the days of her parties/events.

5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST! In case of gingerbread house building, find out the exact ingredients that will be there and deal with it appropriately. The ‘glue’ that my girl’s teacher is using to stick the house together has meringue powder in it and that is an absolute no-no for my sweet girl. So, we are going to have her use gloves while putting these houses together. And then I have checked into all the ingredients and sent in some of the ones where my girl needs specific brands. After all that, we know of one ingredient that she cannot partake of and she is aware of it. So, she’s feeling pretty excited about building herself a little gingerbread house with the rest of her class. And I have to say that this momma is at peace with it and looking forward to seeing what my artistic girl comes up with!

I’m planning to post a few Christmas recipes coming in the next few days, so stay tuned! And I have some plans in the works for the new year on this blog! Exciting days ahead!

December 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm Leave a comment

Back to School: The Parent/School Relationship

Sending your food-allergic child to school can be a bit scary. We wonder if our child will be able to handle the whole food issue when we aren’t there to protect them and read labels. We pray that the teachers will be as concerned as we are and realize this is a serious issue in an emotional way just as much as it is physical. Tons of questions and ‘what-if’s’ flood our minds and sometimes finding the right balance between concern and worry can be tricky. But one place that balance is absolutely necessary is in the parent/school relationship. I thought I’d write a few things I’ve learned by doing and maybe they will help some of you to cultivate a healthy relationship and open communication between you and your child’s school.

  1. Be proactive. Before your child starts school, find out their policy on food allergies, epipens and benadryl. Talk to the nurse. And as soon as you know who your child’s teacher is, get to know her. Make an info sheet about your child’s allergies explaining what she’s allergic to, what a reaction looks like, what to do if a reaction occurs {or if your child is exposed to an allergen}. Put emergency numbers on the sheet, as well as, a picture of your child’s face. That way any substitute teacher or helper will know exactly who your child is. A good print out for this type of form can be found here. You’ll also find other helpful forms there related to food allergies and school.
  2. Be the Room Mom. At our school, every class has a designated Room Mom. The duties include overseeing parties and special events in the class {which always involve food} and doing other things to help the teacher out. I signed up to be my daughter’s Room Mom this year so that I can be directly involved in that. I have time to help out and I want to be there as much as possible when there’s food planning. When I’m planning the food, I can control what foods are offered to an extent. It’s a perfect scenario.
  3. Pick your Battles. There will most likely be issues that arise that are out of your control. Unfortunately, we cannot protect our kids from feeling left out when the whole class is enjoying a yummy-looking snack that we weren’t aware of. The teacher may not remember to give you a head’s up when something involving food is coming up. Some things we just can’t help and we have to let our kids learn to adjust and grow through these issues without us. They will be stronger for it in the long run. But there will be issues that must be addressed. So, when that happens, go in with the right spirit and non-accusatory attitude. Remember: Kindness matters. We are totally invested in our children and it’s easy to get offended or offend when an issue with our child arises. Just keep your cool and try to look at it from every vantage point. The right attitude is key here to keeping a good relationship with your school and teachers.
  4. Offer solutions. If there is a craft or art project {or anything} involving an allergen {i.e. milk cartons, hand soap with milk in it, etc.} be ready to offer a solution such as, ‘Can we use empty water jugs instead of milk cartons? or Can I provide the handsoap for the class? or Can I come in and check out the supply of hand soap brought in to be sure it’s safe for my child? Don’t just tell the teacher there’s a problem. Have a solution. Afterall, we are the ones with a heightened sense of awareness about allergens, not them. As much as they care for our children, they are still able to overlook things that we would immediately notice.
  5. Say Thank You. When things go right, when the teacher takes special measures to keep your child safe, say thank you. When a staff member, teacher or helper goes out of their way to make your child feel special, say Thank You! Recognize their efforts. Send flowers or a card. Do anything to let them know you really appreciate what they are doing for your child {and for your peace of mind} because they are really having to make an effort to remember. What’s second nature to me, is often a difficult and stressful thing for the teacher who is not constantly reading labels and scanning the environment for unsafe allergens. A small thank you goes a long way.

I hope these are helpful tips. I would love to hear some of your tips. If you have some, leave a comment for the rest of us!

August 23, 2011 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Back to School

Sorry for the absence from the blog lately. My girls started school last week and I have been busy getting back into the whole routine of school in general and then adding to that the adventure of introducing my child’s food allergies to her new teachers at her new school. My brain was on overload last week, but I’m back and hope to post a few new things this week!

We started the school year off with a student in my daughter’s class bringing cupcakes for his birthday. To say I wasn’t prepared for that is an understatement. Thankfully, her teacher called me the night before and warned me so that I had time to get her an alternative special treat. I didn’t have time to make allergy-free cupcakes, so I checked with my girl and she said Tofutti brand Ice Cream sandwiches would be fine with her. (Thankfully, her class has a full-sized refrigerator and I can store snacks like that there.) It is hard for me to see her have to cope with being so cautious all the time about food, but God has given her an extra measure of grace to handle it. She amazes me. At almost 6 years old, she handles it extremely well and that makes me proud. I know that it is hard for her to always have a different snack than everyone else and she even declined a snack her second day just because she didn’t want to be different from everyone else. I had to choke back tears when she told me that, but it gave me the opportunity to explain to her that God made her very special. Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth right well.” The fact is God doesn’t make mistakes. Every person has something they have to deal with, hers just happens to be food allergies. But everything God allows in our lives is just a learning experience in our path to becoming more like Him. Through food allergies, “C” has experienced God’s protection many times and she has experienced God’s love and comfort when the day has been emotionally tough. It’s hard to be thankful for something that is so dangerous and scary, but the lessons we have learned from living with food allergies have been {and continue to be} good and for that we can be thankful.

We are also very thankful for our girls’ teachers this year. I hope all of you have great teachers who are willing to communicate with you and work with your child’s food allergies. I pray they will have great compassion for your child, as well. Good luck with a new year!

August 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm 1 comment

Is your child starting Kindergarten with food allergies?

Then, you might want to read my post at 24/7 Moms today! It’s all about sending your food allergic child off to school and some things to think about. I will have more on this subject over the next few weeks….Until then, check out my featured post! And while you’re there, you might like to see what other helpful and interesting articles are featured on 24/7 Moms!

July 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment


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