Monday, August 29, 2011

How many of you are ready for Back to School?

The excitement of school is here! Being a parent of a child with food allergies can perhaps be most stressful at the beginning of a school year. Here’s a checklist to help you start the school year successfully:

  • See the allergist. Your allergist will go over details of your child’s Food Allergy/Emergency Action Plan and update it for the new school year. The allergist may also assist with your child’s Individual Health Plan (IHP) or 504 Plan, if applicable.

  • Meet with key school staff. Examples include the principal, nurse, teacher(s), director of dining services, and bus driver. Go over how your child will be able to participate in all activities safely (i.e., lunchtime, field trips, class parties, lesson plans that involve food).  Come up with a plan for where medications will be stored and determine who will access it in the event of an emergency.

  • Check medications. Check the expiration dates on all of your child’s medication to ensure they are current. If they are to expire during the school year, mark your calendar accordingly to request a refill from the physician at that time.

  • Keep records. Make a binder and keep copies of your child’s medical records and his or her Food Allergy/Emergency Action Plan, IHP, or 504 Plan, and any written correspondence between you and the school. This is also a great place to store notes on what part of the management plan worked well and what could use improvement. In the event that a question or situation comes up during the school year, you can refer to your binder to see if the situation was addressed during any of your meetings.

  • Keep contact information up-to-date. Cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses often change. Any time a change is made to your personal contact information, be sure to provide the school with written record of the change.

  • Offer to volunteer. If your schedule allows, consider volunteering to be the room parent so that you can be involved in classroom celebrations that may involve food, or can accompany the class on a field trip.

  • Familiarize yourself with FAAN’s extensive resources, found in our Back to School Toolkit. We have free downloads, free slideshow presentations that will help you educate school staff, and many educational materials available for purchase.

Take a deep breath! Preparing ahead of time will help you relax as you ease into the new school year. Remember, we’re all in this together. We wish you success!

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