Back to School with Food Allergies

Child and father waiting for school bus

Tips to prepare your children with food allergies for a new school year.

Summer always seems to go by too fast, back-to-school season is in full force and the school year is about to start in counties all over Kentucky and Indiana. In fact, many school districts began earlier this month.

During the beginning of the school year, children are getting back into the swing of things after a long break off. Back-to-school activities are starting up, sports teams; and other extracurricular activities often disrupt the allergy and asthma monitoring routines. In addition to managing pollen allergy and asthma triggers, it’s important to review food allergy plans and prepare for the school year. Here are five tips to help start the school year off right:

Review their Food Allergy Emergency Treatment Plan

When diagnosed with a food allergy, our patients receive an Emergency Treatment Plan for Reactions. This plan explains to what your child is allergic, the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, and what actions should be taken. Walk through this with your child and consider using the epinephrine auto-injector trainer to review the proper administration of epinephrine.  Make sure the plan is also available for your child’s teachers and even substitute teachers.

Turn in School Paperwork

If you haven’t already, drop off your school forms at our office to be filled out by our physicians; we’ll mail it back to you. See our policies on school forms here. Some schools also have additional paperwork for food allergies, use this to begin a conversation with school personnel on your child’s food allergies.

Work as a Team with School Personnel

This means in addition to dropping off any necessary paperwork, talk to your child’s teachers, coaches, bus drivers, school nurse, and cafeteria staff. Talk to the school nurse or administration about where your child’s epinephrine will be kept if he or she cannot carry their own.

If time allows, become active in parent-teacher organizations like the PTA. These organizations often plan school family nights or fundraisers, give voice to your child and encourage non-food incentives and make sure all food allergies are taken seriously.

Treats In the Classroom or on Field Trips

Classroom parties or bagged lunch field trips are potential opportunities for allergen exposure. Discuss with your child’s teachers about the rules on food in the classroom, from food sharing to classroom treats. Encourage hand washing after eating, nonfood items for treats or packaged food items with labels instead of home-baked goods. For field trips, find out whether they will be taking lunches or going to a restaurant, and ensure the appropriate arrangements are made. Talk to the teacher or school nurse about who will have your child’s emergency medications during these trips.

Encourage Self-Management

As your child grows older, it’s important to encourage and teach them how to manage food allergies themselves. Before heading back to school talk to your child about their food allergies. Remind them only to eat foods given to them by trusted adults, and always to find an adult if they feel sick or need help. Once they are old enough, teach your child to read and understand food labels. Also, encourage them to tell others about their food allergy, this will help them get used to talking about their allergies and help take control of managing them.

Other Great Resources:

These websites have great resources not only for you but teachers, administration, and other parents.

FARE – Back to School Headquarters

CDC Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s food allergies or other allergic conditions, schedule an appointment with your allergist.Back to School with Food Allergies

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