Do your kid\'s teachers use food as rewards/for projects?

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2000 - 3:28am
booandbrimom's picture
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Joined: 08/23/2000 - 09:00

My son just started kindergarten this week and I was disturbed by how much food there is in the classroom. He's allergic to milk, soy and peanuts, and she has them glueing down Goldfish crackers to math papers, rewarding them with Jelly Bellies, etc. We've provided some safe snacks, but I finally wrote her a note today saying that both my son and I were uncomfortable with the concept of him touching food to which he's allergic.

Is this a normal kindergarten classroom? I don't want to make a big deal over all of this, but wouldn't you think that if you were a teacher with food-allergic kids, you might try something else in the classroom? We have offered to bring treats that are peanut/soy/milk free for the entire class and to provide them for the entire year, but she didn't want to do that because she has an ocean theme going and the Goldfish fit the theme.

I don't want to be the hyper mom here, but I'm really uneasy about this situation. I don't think it's fair to have to ask my 5 year old to be responsible for what he can touch and washing his hands all the time. What do you guys think?

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2000 - 3:42am
Christine's picture
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Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

I can (and usually do) get on my soapbox about how much food and treats have become so much a part of the school system. It is just disgusting. My oldest child has no allergies; however, I am constantly amazed at the amount of food rewards given out (popsicle parties for memorizing the math tables, treats at the end of the week for good behavior, etc). I HATE it. Children these days are so overweight as it is and now the schools are nothing but one big candy store. THAT is one issue. The other issue is that your child has a food allergy. Now let's just disregard the basic problems of a food allergy such as lunches and parties. Yep, we seem to have to let those issues go, but when it comes to projects and learning in the classroom, your child has a right to participate in ALL learning activities and assignments. If a particular school project is life threatening that I believe the school must find another way to present that project. Your child should not be made to leave the classroom and be deprived of an "official" learning experience. This is part of his/her education. Leaving the room for a party is hurtful, yes, but quite another matter!
Christine

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2000 - 3:48am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

You are absolutely right--if he's allergic to milk he should not be handling cheese crackers and the teacher should accommodate his health care needs in the classroom. I realize it is hard for the teacher and it does kind of mess up her lessons, but there is a more important lesson to be learned in this case. The students are more important than the lesson.
I am having big problems with my son's school (he is starting preschool) and I have been searching for documents to support some of my positions. Check this out:
[url="http://www.aaaai.org/public/publicedmat/advocate/1999/summer/backtoschool.stm"]http://www.aaaai.org/public/publicedmat/advocate/1999/summer/backtoschool.stm[/url]
It gives guidelines for managing allergies in a school setting and it specifically calls for schools to "substitute any food used in lesson plans with another non-allergenic food, depending on the allergies of the students." This is a highly respected professional org for asthma and allergy medical care providers.
I think there are pretzel goldfish, but maybe those also contain ingredients your child is allergic to. You could offer to cut 25,000 little orange goldfish out of construction paper for her (actually, her kindergartners could do that and it would probably be good for them). Good luck.

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2000 - 3:53am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

Oh, another link
[url="http://www.foodallergy.org/educatortips.html"]http://www.foodallergy.org/educatortips.html[/url]
This one, from FAN, is in their "Tips for School Officials" and includes the following advice to administrators and teachers: "Refrain from using food items in classroom projects or as rewards and incentives."

Posted on: Sat, 09/02/2000 - 4:34am
Linda-Jo's picture
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Joined: 07/30/1999 - 09:00

I agree totally with this. I don't think food should be given as a reward. What ever happened to pencils or stickers or little packs of crayons? I believe teachers can be more creative than that, but let's face it, food is easier. My daughter is starting kindergarten this year and there is a teacher who uses food as rewards and I told them it would not be in her best interest to place her in her class. Luckily, they agreed with me.

Posted on: Sun, 09/03/2000 - 3:39am
rilira's picture
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Joined: 11/11/1999 - 09:00

The food reward system started the war at my daughters school. The original teacher they were going to place her with gives out snicker bars and he just did not feel like he could change his system.
My daughters teacher has a prize box. The box contains stickers, pencils and small toys. In previous years she did also include some candy but took it out for this year.
I too am amazed at how much candy is handed out at school.

Posted on: Fri, 09/08/2000 - 1:31pm
ElizabethsMom's picture
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Joined: 04/17/1999 - 09:00

Yikes, food as reward doesn't just affect those with PA, what about diabetic kids who can't have sugar? wheat allergies? Or even the idea that rewarding/punishing with food can lead to weight problems and eating disorders.... Stickers, pencils, stars on charts are all great subsitutes.

Posted on: Sat, 09/09/2000 - 2:01pm
Austins mom's picture
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Joined: 02/08/2000 - 09:00

Austins teacher requests that instead of snacks being brought in for bday partys etc. to bring a book, new or used and she will put the kids picture who donated the book inside the front cover, she will keep the books in her classroom library. Why would we even want our kids to eat all that sugar during school and come home to us hyper anyway? Kids need to be rewarded at school with learning tools not food.

Posted on: Sun, 09/17/2000 - 8:27pm
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I teach first grade. Because of my experience with food allergies, I carefully review my students records to see if they have any. I definitely would not EVER expose that child to any food he or she is alleric too. Right now though my class is seemingly allergy free. I still don't serve peanut products but I do give out treats. I understand your points of view and agree with most of what you are saying but trust me, I do not overfeed. I don't believe most teachers do. I agree with the school party issue. I cringe on party days!
Jennifer

Posted on: Mon, 09/18/2000 - 12:09am
Linda-Jo's picture
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Joined: 07/30/1999 - 09:00

In my previous post, I stated my daughter was put in a class where the teacher didn't use food as rewards. Well, now that she has started, I found out the teacher does use food in her classroom. We talked alot about this and instead of me saying, "please don't feed my child", the teacher will only give the kids treats that are approved by me. She doesn't want to single her out in any way, and would rather give out 'safe' treats that my daughter as well as the whole class can enjoy. I'm OK with this. The teacher said she is very concerned for her safety and is working with me to keep her safe.

Posted on: Fri, 09/29/2000 - 2:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I've found that my son's teacher does use food for rewards and projects. However, because he is in a "peanut free" classroom she diligently checks (even calling manufacturers) to make sure that the candy is safe and that the food (Froot Loops used to make a wreath) are "safe". But, because he's only had this one teacher, he has the same one this year, I can't tell if she isn't also substituting a lot of the food rewards with stickers because I notice that he comes home with a lot of stickers for if he has a good day, has won a particular game or whatever. She may be doing this because of his allergy. Last year, when he had to go to the vice-principal's office to get his asthma inhalers, I had a phone call. The vp was calling to see if it was okay if Jesse had some of the jelly beans that she had in a big jar on her desk. The poor little guy is sitting there and he knows that the vp has called his Mommy but I had to say no because I didn't know if they were "safe" or not. I thought, what the he__ does she have a big jar of jelly beans on her desk for and knowing that he is one of a heckuva lot of kids coming to see her to get asthma inhalers. I don't know if she still has the jar on her desk this year. They've become extremely aware this year and somehow I suspect that if she does she's checked to make sure that the jelly beans are "safe". I also don't like the candy thing at school anyway because both of my children are very active children and I limit their sugar intake at home and do not send candy into school with Jesse because of this only to have him given it anyway. It's mind boggling! Best wishes!
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