Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Allergies in School

As your little ones start school this fall, not only are you dealing with "letting them go", but you're probably dealing with fears about keeping them safe in school as well.  It's difficult to trust that your child's Teacher and the staff will do their best to keep your child safe, but the key is just staying involved as much as you possibly can.  You may even consider setting up the "Section 504 Plan" for your child, because food allergies fall under a "hidden disability".  If you are interested in setting them up for the "504" please talk with your school principal and they will inform you about what steps you need to take.  It basically protects your child in terms of keeping them safe at school when it comes to their food allergy.  It really holds the school liable for them, so the school may not be as fond of it as you may be.  Be prepared for them to tell you, "Oh, you're child doesn't need it!"  It really means that they don't want all the paperwork involved and all the necessary steps that they will NEED to follow to ensure your child's safety.  BUT.... I do stress that if you are not able to stick around the school as often as would like due to work or other commitments, you really might want to look into setting up Section 504 for your child.  It will hold the school accountable, which means less work on your end!  Obviously, you will want to keep constant communication with your child's teacher to make sure that you are always aware of what is going on in the classroom. 

For my family, we chose not to set up the 504 plan only because I have been blessed to have had such amazing Teachers thus far who have been incredibly helpful in keeping me posted on classroom activities that might include food.  I also think that if you are busy with work and may not have time to be Room Mom for your child's class, why not ask if you can be Room Mom Assistant?  Be involved somehow, that will really ensure that you will always know what's going on in your child's class.  No surprises!  If you are involved in Room Mom responsibilities, then that means YOU get to plan everything, which kind of puts YOU in control of the situation! 

If you absolutely can not fit volunteering or being Room Mom/ Room Mom Assistant into your schedule, then always keep the lines of communication open with your child's Teacher.  Express your concerns at the beginning of the year and tell your child's Teacher what your expectations are in terms of your child's food allergies.  I was fortunate enough to have my child's Teacher from last year give my daughters current Teacher the whole story ahead of time.  So, when I slipped her my note about my daughters food allergies she whispered to me, "I know, I would love to set up a meeting with you so that we can talk about all that!"  

I am a firm believer that you get more out of life with kindness!  So when beginning your child's school year, don't take the negative approach with your child's Teacher.  Do not express negative past experiences with your new Teacher, start the year fresh.  Stay optimistic, every Teacher is different!  Every approach is different so don't think that this Teacher will be like your last.  Give him or her a chance at making your child's year successful! 

  • Remember, stay connected with your child's teacher!  By email, phone or messages in the office mailbox.
  • Show up at the school as much as you possibly can.
  • Try to make it to parties/field trips if possible.  If you are unable to attend, make sure the proper precautions are being made to ensure your child's safety!
  • Finally, stay optimistic!  No Teacher wants a disgruntled angry parent!  Anger is contagious!  Be kind, smile and you'll see that you will get that in return!  Remember it's a team effort!

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