It’s backpack time again, with most schools in our area starting either this week or the next. Everyone (me included) is scrambling to get those last items on the supply list. Don’t forget to get your medications and school nursing forms ready too!
For food allergy parents, this can be a very anxiety-provoking time, especially if your child is starting out at a new school, or even just with a new teacher.
I encourage all parents to meet with EVERY teacher, EVERY year, even if it’s just briefly. Openly talk about your child’s food allergies and food allergy action plan. Yes, they get basic education in professional development seminars, but as a parent, it’s very important that you have an understanding with any adult who is responsible for your child. That way, you can rest assured they are vigilant at keeping your child safe from their allergenic foods.
It is encouraging that the food allergy education gap with our schools narrows every year–can you believe that one in every 13 school aged kids has a food allergy??? More and more educators have already had multiple students with food allergies in previous years and “know the routine.” But to assume they know your child’s boundaries without opening a conversation about it can be dangerous. Yes, the nurses have epinephrine available, and some schools even have epi emergency kits in the cafeterias now, but some teachers still use candies and food as teaching tools or rewards in the classroom. Below is a list of some non-food and low-cost rewards for school aged students that you can suggest to your child’s teacher. Better yet, become a classroom parent, and start a non-food treasure box for your child’s classroom—the teacher will love it!
No cost/low cost rewards:
- Tickets for extra reading or computer classroom time, free time at the end of the day
- Awards or medals
- Books, bookmarks
- Prizes/gift certificates donated by local businesses
- Finger puppets
- Glow sticks
- Pencil cases, grips, sharpeners, toppers, erasers
- Playing cards
- Rubber balls
- Sticky notes
- Stress balls
- Tote bags
- Slinkies, spinning tops, yo-yos