Sending Son with PA to Preschool Page 2

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 lbader on Sun, 08-04-13, 15:45

My 13 yo daughter was the first in her preschool and her elementary school with a severe allergy. I sent a safe treat for keeps at school for when other children had birthdays. I encouraged parents to call me about treats and labels. If there ever was a snack or treat that was questionable, the teacher would send it home for the students to eat there. The principal of the elementary school asked me to make a safe snack list. At first I wasn't too thrilled to do this since labels always change but it really worked the best. The list clearly stated no generic items and by brand name the ok snacks. Honestly busy parents aren't going to read a label before sending their little one off to school with a snack. The list worked great. It's still in use in our school even though my daughter is o longer there. A parent with an allergic child adds and modifies it every year.

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By William'smom on Sun, 08-04-13, 15:40

I am a pre-school teacher & a mother of a PA son (now in high-school) I insist that the pre-schooler's parent inspect any snacks brought by an other parent. And only if the parent of the allergic child is OK with the snack will I give it to their child. I think the best route is for a child with an allergy to have his own snack from home. As a teacher, I can't know about the cross-contamination that might occur at someone else's house. As a teacher I'd also like to add that too much trust should not be put in "peanut-free classroom".

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By mom1995 on Sun, 08-04-13, 15:24

Our solution was a simple one. Step one make sure the teacher is the one who understands the depth of the allergy. Step two let her know you are relying on her to keep your son safe. Step three provide her with a substute snack in the event one is sent that is not safe. We did this from preschool until second grade. Anytime that snack had to be used the teacher would call me or send home a note and I would send a new sncak the next morning. This seemed to work well.

It seems scary (and it is). There will be moments that you question if its best. Just have faith and patients to help the uneducated learn.

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By pattycakes on Sun, 08-04-13, 15:17

As I sit next to my 15 year old son with PA, I can remember the anxiety that I endured the first couple of days of his preschool. I has my son wear a Epi-Pen fanny type pack. The Epi sat on his back and buckled in the front. He wore this every time he left the house. The first day of Preschool I sat in the entrance way where he could not see me; however, if needed I was there. After that when I dropped him off I asked to look at the snacks for the day to ensure they were Nut Free. If it had nuts I had a spare no expiring snack in my car and the preschool allowed me to store a snack for the class in a cabinet for an urgent safe snack. I prayed and it worked out very well. Have a plan, Be Prepared and Train the staff all of the signs and symptoms and how to respond to the issues.
Sending positive thoughts.

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By SuperTeacherMom on Sun, 08-04-13, 15:14

We went through this a few years ago. We asked to meet with the school principal, nurse, and teacher prior to school starting. We provided medical documentation with detailed information on how to accommodate our child's health needs. We offered to train the school staff on how to keep him safe and how to read labels. We then provided a list of allergy safe treats for the school to send home with students. Later on we had our son placed on a Section 504 plan due to his medical concerns with the PA and his building his completely peanut free!!!! Educate the school and keep them up to date! Good luck!

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By PeanutAllergy.com on Fri, 08-02-13, 17:18

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com will be answering a question posted on our community page!

Our response:

Sending your child to preschool can definitely be a scary thing! However, with these helpful tips, you can manage!

The first thing we recommend you do is talk to the school nurse as well as you child’s teachers about his peanut allergy and find out the food allergy policies of the school and if there is an action plan in place in case of an allergic reaction. Make sure that you provide the teacher and nurse (or any other caretakers) with EpiPens and Benadryl, and make sure they are trained in how to administer the medications.

Some preschools are “nut-free,” which is a great option! If the school is not nut-free, ask if the administration will send out a newsletter to other parents asking them to refrain from packing food containing nut products. Of course, the important thing to remember is that non-PA parents sometimes forget to pack nut-free food, so always stress to your child to only eat food packed by mommy and daddy. Always work with your child to help them understand their food allergy and give him the tools to be an advocate for himself when you are not around!

We also recommend giving a presentation to the preschool about your child’s allergies. This is a great opportunity to educate the administration about the severity of food allergies and be an advocate for your child. Put together a folder containing a picture of your son, emergency contact information, an Emergency Action Plan signed by your physician (which can be found on foodallergy.org), a description of symptoms to look for, and instructions for how to use an EpiPen (which can be found online at FARE). Also, you could put a list of safe-foods and unsafe foods for your child. This binder can be kept in the teacher’s desk, so if there is ever a substitute teacher he or she will know what to do. If your child has several teachers, make multiple binders.

For lunch, always pack your child his own lunch and safe snacks. It is better safe than sorry! Birthday parties can pose another challenge. Pack your child his own safe treats to eat so he doesn’t feel excluded. You could also make a suggestion to the teacher to have non-food birthday parties that involve craft-making or other fun activities.

Be an advocate! Check in with the preschool continually throughout the year, educate other parents and the administration about food allergies, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Stay positive and remind the staff how appreciative you are of their efforts to protect your child. It is essential that everyone work together and stay on the same page so that your child’s safety can be protected.

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By alexakay on Sun, 08-04-13, 07:12

Two years ago, we sent our youngest (who has a severe PN allergy and is allergic to all TN) to Pre-K. After informing the director of her allergies, we also included letters from her ped and allergist about her food allergies. She has asthma as well. Thankfully, the director decided to make the school completely nut-free. I agree with the recommendations by previous posters. The school provided lunch, which on the days she attended I made sure were PN-free (they sent home a lunch newsletter each month) and then one day a week I brought her home for lunch, which I know isn't always possible for everyone. The letters from her docs really seemed to help, as well as continuous communication with the school administrators. As our daughter enters first grade, we will continue this. I wish you well and hope that all goes ok with your child!

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By JoelJacobson on Wed, 07-31-13, 02:25

Have you thought about homeschooling? We do it for both our kids, ages six and 10, the six-year-old has severe PA, diagnosed at one year old. Keeps them home until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

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By alexakay on Sun, 08-04-13, 07:14

Hi! Just wanted to ask if you follow a particular curriculum. We are considering moving across the country and while our kids are safe in their current school, the idea of homeschooling has come up quite a bit. Thanks!

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By Mamaokiyama on Tue, 07-30-13, 20:22

My son is four with sever peanut allergy. Last year I sent him to a Montessori program twice a week. The school is "peanut free" meaning no peanut butter or peanut products. But they do not go as far as "may contain" or "processed in the same facility as". Parents were responsible to bring a snack for the whole class weekly. I didn't want the responsibility to fall on a teacher who is managing 10 or more students at a time so I packed a safe snack for my son and opted out of bringing a class snack. I had a meeting with his teacher and taught her how to read the allergen statements on packages. I brought in "beyond a peanut allergy" flash cards and had her study them as we'll as share the information with the class. Most importantly I showed all of the office members as well as his teacher how to use the epi pen. Even though they go through training themselves.

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