Wow, to think just a year ago I was a complete bundle of nerves waiting for my little one with food allergies to start Kindergarten. And WHAM suddenly the year flew by and we’re getting ready to begin first grade in just a few days.
Some of you have asked for updates on Avery’s first year in school and how things went with food allergy management. We had a successful year – there were no food allergy reactions at school or after-school care the entire year. I never received the “dreaded phone call” and my daughter was able to focus her energy on learning to read and making friends.
We discussed and agreed upon safety protocols before the school year began. Here are some of the things we did:
- All of the kids washed their hands in the morning upon arrival and again after lunch.
- The classroom was kept free of all her allergens for safety.
- Classroom snacks were submitted by parents off a list of “safe foods,” reviewed and approved by the teacher, and then given in the classroom to all the students.
- Snacks were changed halfway through the year and families sent snacks in each day and the students moved to the cafeteria to eat them. They ate in the cafeteria because the snacks may have included allergens and so they followed the cafeteria protocol where Avery has a designated seat in the “nut free” section of the table.
- Avery brought her own lunch from home. I did my best to keep her meals interesting and varied each day (along with her big brother’s lunch). I packed a cloth napkin with each lunch, which she spread out as a place-mat. She knew that if food fell on the place-mat, it was okay to eat. If food fell on the table or floor, it was not okay to eat. I also sent rice milk in a thermos for lunch time.
- Avery brought a water bottle to school each day (so did most of the class) to keep at her desk instead of using water fountains, which can have food remnants on them.
- Avery self-carried her emergency medications (EpiPen Jr & Benedryl) in a belt around her waist (more on that here).
- We also kept back up medications in the school office “just in case,” which turned out to be a wise move, as there were 3-4 times during the school year when Avery (and I) forgot to put on her belt before leaving the house. For those times, the back up medications traveled with her throughout the day.
- The teacher also read a few different food allergy children’s books throughout the year (which I loaned her) to help the class better understand food allergies and how to help keep their friend safe.
- Craft & science supplies were checked for food allergens and I was called if there were questions.
- At this school, no food is allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays, so we had no issues there.
- I attended the Kindergarten field trip to keep an eye out for allergens and be available to treat any reaction.
I’m super appreciative of how the school worked with us to make a safe learning environment for Avery. Even though we had a successful year, I also recognize that accidents happen and sometimes new allergies appear out of nowhere. It’s very possible that at some point during her schooling she will have a reaction and we’ll have to deal with it as it happens. Right now the key is prevention and making sure people can recognize symptoms and treat them promptly.
Last week I met with Avery’s first grade teacher to review everything and make sure we are ready for the new year. We’re all excited and ready – first grade, here we come!
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
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