As parents of children with allergies, we understand the jumble of emotions that you may experience when your child starts or returns to school and nursery. School life is exhausting without worrying about coping with allergies in school, along with any additional health needs in the mix!
Coping with allergies in school
If your little one suffers from allergies, it’s a good idea to arrange a meeting with the staff that will be working with your child, including office staff. Take in a written list of things they’re allergic to and any medication they take. Staff can then have a look at the medication and/or have training on how to use it. You can share a list of symptoms or things that you would like them to look out for, particularly those unique to your child.
The questions to ask…
You can also use this meeting to ask questions about how the teaching staff copes with allergies in school. For instance, where the medication will be kept, how mealtimes and snack times be managed, and what happens in an emergency. Knowing the answers to these questions and any others that you are particularly worried about will help you to give you confidence and also build up a relationship with the staff at the school. Depending on the type of allergies and reactions your child has will affect how these questions are answered. An important question to consider when managing IgE allergies is considering where the medication will be kept.
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Adrenaline and inhalers need to be accessible
If your child carries adrenaline and/or has inhalers, their medication needs to be easily accessible and travel with them as they move around school. It is important to stress the importance of adrenaline auto-injectors and inhalers staying with your child at all times. Reactions and attacks can happen quickly and children can deteriorate very fast. It is vital to eliminate the risk of staff members rushing back to classrooms, first aid rooms or offices to locate medication in an emergency.
Allerpack children’s bags are great to have at school. The handy wristlet makes them easy to carry around and the bright colours make them easily identifiable. Children can personalise their bags further to include badges to represent the medication inside or add information cards to include important information on the outside of the bag. There is also a handy transparent sleeve on the back of each Allerpack, for Allergy Action Plans to be stored and easily and quickly accessible if needed.
Packed lunch or school dinners?
Deciding whether your child will take a packed lunch from home with them to school or whether they will enjoy a lunch prepared at school is a very personal choice. Most school catering teams will cater for allergies and prepare something safe for them daily.
Additional things that you may then want to consider are:
- How will they identify your child?
- How will they manage cross-contact within the kitchen?
- Will there be a member of staff watching over your child over the lunchtime period?
The answers to these questions will differ from school to school, but the important thing is that you feel comfortable with how they will manage allergies over lunchtime. If you are unsatisfied, keep asking questions until both parties understand the expectations and are happy with the management over lunchtime. If you decide that sending your child to school with a packed lunch is best for you, there are also several things to consider.
It’s really important that nobody else in their class has the same lunchbox or water bottle. A mix-up of food could have urgent consequences. Perhaps consider buying a personalised lunch bag or discuss with your child how they can ensure they know which lunchbox belongs to them.
If your child reacts on contact with food, consider asking the new setting how they will manage this and prevent reactions when there is such a great mix of food around in the canteen. It is also good to ask where the medication will be kept during lunchtime and which staff member would manage a reaction at this time.
Allerpack insulated bumbags are perfect for lunch and play times. They allow adults to carry medication whilst still keeping both hands free. This eliminates the risk of forgetting medication during these transition times and ensures that the medication is kept safe and easily accessible.
Home-school books are a fantastic resource for communication. If your child has lots of medication, including antihistamines and inhalers, recording each dose in a home-school book is a great way to keep on top of medication. It is also handy to take along to future medical appointments.
It can be very busy at the school gates before and after school, and often difficult to have important conversations with teachers daily. The home-school communication books are an easy way to communicate efficiently and pass over messages regarding medication and other medical-related notes.
- Make sure everything is clearly labelled, from lunchboxes to water bottles, to medication bags.
- Communicate your expectations with the class teacher and/or other staff.
- If starting nursery, contact your health visiting team to see what additional support is available to you.
- If your child is starting school, contact the school nurse.
- Have a clear procedure in place in case of an emergency and consider things such as:
- Who will they call first?
- Who will travel to the hospital with your child?
Article by the experts at Allerpack