Big day for school confirmation. How to prepare your allergy child for the first time.
16 April 2021, 13:51:03
First Time parents find out about their children's school placements There are many parents checking their emails today; probably more than usual as they await news on which school their child will be starting in September. For first time parents this is a new milestone for their family; and for allergy families it can be incredibly daunting as it will be a new environment to navigate away from home - possibly for the first time. Up to this point early years education is not compulsory; so for the first four to five years of a child's life they have been at home or in some cases at nursery, childcare or preschool. We're one of the families finding out our fate today and although excited for the independence that this means for our child as they grow up; however there is also sense of cautious anxiety of whether we made the right selections and order of preferences on the schools application form. As much as the education; sense of community and development are of equal importance; the complexities of ensuring the school is safe for your child with life threatening allergies will always be a priority. 2020 was the first time parents and carers had to undergo the process blindly as COVID restrictions largely prevented the open day visits that would normally take place. In 2020 when we were all thrust into a world of digital transformation and necessity these visits were replaced by zoom calls with headteachers and other prospective parents. We wrote an article earlier this year on the strategy for selecting your child's school when you have to consider allergies. This would be really useful to revisit now as there are some useful questions and considerations once you have certainty of their school placement for reception. 3 things to help you get your child with allergies school ready for September So a few months have passed since you placed your application in January. You find out your school placement for your child now in April for when they start in September. There seems to be some time between all these key dates so it can wait. Or can it? Communication is key for a new school The more informed your school is about your child's medical conditions and challenges; the better armed they will be to protect them. It is a partnership between parents and the school therefore it is important to establish a relationship early with them to empower them to support your child so that they are both safe and included. Early Preparation to ensure your child's safety at school As the pandemic has demonstrated; there are extra logistical considerations and schools and healthcare are no exception. So that the school is ready for your allergy child in September the earlier that you can work together to put together a plan; means that there is no doubt for when reception starts. So many things are also taking extra time as well; COVID has impacted on healthcare appointments, medical supplies, turnaround times for plans to name a few. Therefore it is important to as soon as you are able to confirm the following to avoid a last minute panic: Allergy Plan confirmed with your child's Allergist or healthcare professional. Share this with the school within the next 4 weeks if possible; which will provide them ample time to make arrangements that you're all comfortable with. It is a good idea to arrange a meeting or phone call with the school headteacher. For the avoidance of doubt the BSACI provide guidance and templates for allergy management plans which you can access here. Order your child's medication in plenty time for the school term. We are big advocates of "Always Carry Two". In the case of adrenaline auto-injectors always ensure that you have two pens at home and two at school. Medpac provide great insulated medical storage cases which also make it easy to quickly identify who it belongs to. As they're insulated and compact they're also great for sports and outings. Check what procedures and processes your school has in place including anaphylaxis and emergency medication training. ARK have created Anaphylaxis and Asthma Rescue Kits specifically for schools, which you can find out more about here. Preparing your child (and yourself) mentally and emotionally for transition to school As your child will not have you to protect them at school it is important for them to be able to confidently advocate for themselves and feel independent in their surroundings and around their peers. Emma Amoscato is a fantastic author and creator of the SMILE programme and is an expert in the emotional connection between allergies and anxiety. She has written a great book called You, Me and Food Allergies; a non-fiction book geared towards school aged children to help them talk about their allergies. This would be a great reference to share with your child and clarify any questions that they have both practically and also how they feel about dealing with different situations; so that they may safeguard themselves as much as possible. There is a great section in the book which talks specifically about starting school. Our friends at Creative Nature's own CEO Julianne Ponan remembers her school years with allergies and they have helpfully put together 5 tips to help going to school run smoothly which you can read in full here. In a nutshell they provide practical advice around preparations with the school as we explored above; but importantly provide some great tips around school catering, meal preparation and lunchboxes. Creative Nature makes baking more inclusive and Gnawbles are great fun - these are our go when we need to cater for others; lunchbox fillers, birthday parties and school fundraisers as they are top 14 free but also delicious! Finally, the Teal Allergy Tracker App provides you as a parent with the resources and support you need to help manage your family's allergies. Each membership will cover your entire household when you have more than one person's allergies to consider. The emergency function allows you to set profiles so that if your child has an allergic reaction at school you may be alerted immediately as well as instructions to administer their medication as quickly as possible. Our various gear including medical alert bands and tags are connected through smart technology; which would make it easy for a grownup or peer to help your child in an emergency. We wish you all the very best as you find out and would love to hear more about your experiences and preparations for this important next chapter for your child.