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Sending Son with PA to Preschool

My little guy with a PA is turning 4 next month and I am sending him to preschool. This is a little anxiety invoking since he has been pretty much under my watch since he was diagnosed with his PA at age 1. I spoke to the preschool director at then end of last school year (my daughter was attending there) and she has agreed to make his classroom peanut free. Parents do rotate bringing snacks so I am depending on the other parents and teachers to be vigilant. He will of course have his epi pen with him at school, but I will also be dependent on a teacher to make sure it stays with him as he rotates classrooms during the day. It's all a little scary, but I can't keep him home forever! Any advice from parents who have sent their child with a PA off to preschool for the first time?

By jiffycansuckit on Sun, 08-04-13, 19:30

I'm torn with this post. I'm slightly offended, and I'm on your side at the same time. Does that make sense? I'm a little offended because I'm a teacher. Teachers are very educated people. That's why they are teachers. Every year we are trained how to use an epi-pen. The week before school starts, that's what we are doing. We are in training. Training for the peanut allergy kids, training for the diabetic kids, training for blood borne pathogens, training for the newest way to teach all learning styles simultaneously. Training, training, training! That's not to say you shouldn't talk to your child's teacher. They don't get it. I was one of them before my son was diagnosed. They don't understand the cross-contamination, the trace amounts, the "no store/generic brands", the "when in doubt, don't give it". This training, they don't receive. The nurse needs to start incorporating this into the epi-pen training. The nurse at my school needs to start doing this, but I don't think she really gets it either because she doesn't have a child with a pa. And whatever you do, do not ask for a meeting to train the staff. It won't go over well. There are better ways to handle this.

I am very guilty. I didn't get it. I would even eat peanut butter in the classroom with the pa student in there. I thought, "Ok, don't give him peanut butter or peanuts. Done!" I don't teach elementary, and I don't deal with classroom snacks so it was a little different but still wrong. I wasn't being mean, I just didn't understand. So I say all of this to say, know that the teachers have been trained, but also know that they probably don't get it. They've most likely only been trained how to use the epi-pen.

Maybe approach the teacher with this attitude: "I know you've been trained on this, but for my peace of mind I have to say this," and then make sure she understands that even her snacks have to be peanut free. Definitely give her a list of unsafe foods. Better yet, why don't you create a daily or weekly rotation chart for the teacher (she's got a ton to do right now!) and then the parents can sign up for which day or week they want to bring one of the approved snacks. The other parents won't be deciding what to bring, it will already be decided for them! That's a great idea! I would create a chart for you if I could upload documents. But don't be all like, "Hey I've created this chart for you to use." Ask her if it would be ok. She'll say yes. It's all in how you approach it. Teachers like to be the ones in control of their classrooms. It gets the year off to a bad start when parents come in trying to call the shots. I'm just being honest and trying to help you navigate this situation in the best possible way so you won't be labeled a "high-maintenance parent".

Maybe you could talk to the principal and find out which teacher would be the best for your child. A teacher is not going to be hurt because you pulled your child from her class. It will be one less kiddo she has to worry about!

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By nutfreemee on Mon, 08-05-13, 01:19

It is too bad that this "teacher" is offended and torn about this post. NO teacher should think they are so educated that they should be making these decisions.

The parent needs to provide ALL SNACKS. Period. In the event of a class party where foods are brought in, the parent needs to be THERE in close supervision, not relying on the teachers or caregivers.

This is not an insult, it is an essential part of parenting a child with a peanut allergy.

This is essential.

The parent should never rely on any teacher or caregiver to have thoroughly researched all the ingredients in either homemade or manufactured snacks. Homemade snacks are the absolute worst because you have no control over cross contamination in someone else's home.

When my granddaughter (severe peanut allergy) was in nursery school, there was a valentine's party. I attended to make sure she did not eat anything other than what I had sent in with her. One of the mothers came up and said to her "I've made some chocolate chip cookies for you J. and there are no peanuts in it," my granddaughter was excited and took a cookie, which I immediately removed from her hand. I asked the woman if she had looked at the chocolate chip package to see if they were processed in a factory with peanuts, and she looked at me like I was from outer space and said "duh, it is chocolate, not peanuts!" This is what happens, even when people are trying to be good.

People do not understand that if something doesn't include Peanuts in the name, that doesn't mean there isn't contamination.

The bottom line: you need to send ALL snacks for your child to the school, and all teachers need to know that is all they can eat. Period.
If there is a party, you need to be there to monitor because the teachers might not be there at every slip of the snack.

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By amorrow1987 on Sat, 08-10-13, 18:45

I love this! your post said everything that i think. today is my son's 3rd birthday! :) we found out about the allergy when he was 1.

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By jiffycansuckit on Mon, 08-05-13, 03:45

I'm not a "teacher", I am a teacher. I was being honest and sharing my heart. It's unfortunate that you can't appreciate brutal honesty. I can be torn by being slightly offended and on her side at the same time. In case you didn't catch it, my child has a severe peanut allergy. Because he has a severe pa, I can think I am very educated on the topic and can make these decisions for students with pa, but that's not even what I was saying. I think you need to read responses more than once before you respond with an attack.

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By Traci_J on Sun, 08-04-13, 21:55

Thanks so much for your post. To clarify, maybe the situation will make a little more sense if I mention that this is a private preschool at a local community center. There is no nurse there for sure. The teachers do, I assume, receive teacher training from the director, but based on conversations with teachers and the director there, I'm not really sure how much, if any, training they get about allergies and how to use an epi pen. They have had "a few" children with allergies attend there over the past few years, but I get the impression that they decide on how to manage the child's allergy on a case by case basis as directed by the parent. The one time I left my son at the day care at that same facility (which has some of the same preschool staff) I had to give them all a quick training on the epi pen because they had no idea how to use it. If it were a public school, I would feel a lot more confident that they received great training in regards to allergies and epi pens. I have worked in public schools myself and am familiar with the extensive training received there. I did try to get my son into the preschool at our local elementary school, but all of the self-pay slots for his age are full with a waiting list as long as there are slots!
Anyways, I do appreciate your feedback! I will take care to find out how much training the teachers and staff have already received before I throw my two cents in :). My main concern is that in this case the teachers will be asking me what I want to do and I want to be prepared to know what to tell them.
I chose this preschool because my daughter attended there and the program was great and mostly because they expressed the most willingness to work with my son's allergy, whereas other preschools I contacted said things like "we'll make sure that he has his own peanut free snack, but Suzy sitting next to him might be eating peanut butter." So I guess this is my best shot :). His preschool is actually NOT a peanut free school. Yikes. Just his class will be peanut free. There are other classes that use the same classrooms throughout the day that do allow peanuts. I'm hoping that with great communication we'll all be able to work out a safe environment for my son.

By jiffycansuckit on Mon, 08-05-13, 04:04

Thanks for the clarification. That is a very different situation than a public school. You're right, the day care workers, and probably preschool teachers, aren't trained. I had to show them how to use the epi-pen because they said they had no clue. I had to pull my son from his daycare at one year old. They also had a preschool. The director said the facility was nut-free, but that just meant no peanut butter and no nuts. They were giving the kids granola bars and cheese Ritz Bitz snacks, etc. I provided his snacks, but he was 9-12 mos old. He could've picked up a crumb and put it in his mouth. The daycare worker was eating M-n-M's, trail mix, pecan sandies. I said something to her, but she blew me off saying she would wash her hands. I then went to the director. It didn't help. He moved rooms. The new teacher brought in homemade choc chip cookies. I asked about them and her response was disheartening. The director had "no eating in the rooms" rules, but she didn't enforce them. So I had to pull him. I'm sure you will have better luck, and your son's much older.

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By thekilij on Sun, 08-04-13, 17:35

My daughter is five and I do not allow other parents to feed her. I loath schools that rotate parents bringing in snacks. In fact, I pulled my daughter out of a private school that refused to eliminate this kind of snack program. I provide all of the snacks and meals my daughter requires and prefer she be in an environment where other parents are doing the same, so she doesn't feel left out. I also ask teachers to give me notice if there will be a party, event, etc., so I may provide my daughter with safer and healthier alternatives.

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By jenlil on Sun, 08-04-13, 16:03

My daughters school only allowed store bought products so the teacher could read the ingredients. I don't let my Dtr eat anything processed in a facility with nuts so that limits certain stores, which can be difficult. That excludes Walmart and target.

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By jiffycansuckit on Sun, 08-04-13, 19:42

I'm confused about your Walmart and Target comment. Maybe this is something I need to be doing? Please explain!

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By jenlil on Sun, 08-04-13, 23:04

Walmart and target labels their baked goods and even some breads that they are processed in a facility with nuts. I hardly ever look at regular bread labels but looked at Walmart hamburger bun label that had that statement on it. I don't let my daughter eat Walmart or Costco cakes either.

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