Schools Daze! Starting Preschool ...

Posted on: Sat, 06/07/2008 - 6:09am
ctmartin's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007 - 09:00

Hi, Everyone,

I have been looking into preschool programs for my 2.5 year old daughter. There is one that I am particularly interested in b/c her friend is attending there as well. I'm just not so sure how I feel about it yet.

Yesterday I met with the director, who was very sweet and encouraging. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, and reading some of the stories here, I really thought I might get the runaround, but was pleasantly surprised.

You see, this is a perfect program for my daughter b/c it is half day (9-12), either two or three days a week. That takes lunch completely out of the equation, as well as birthday celebrations, which usually occur after lunch. Yay, right?

They do have a snack, but that is not what I am worried about. Basically, the director said they would send home a note to all parents saying please refrain from sending in peanut products for snack (they make parents supply snacks for their children each month), and then the teacher would look over the snacks each month to make sure they were OK (I believe that they would allow me to do this if I wanted to as well).

In addition, there is a 10:2 student/teacher ratio, which makes me feel comfortable, and they said the aide could sit with my daughter during snack to make sure nothing gets shared. The teacher has used an epi before and is ready and willing, although currently there are no PA students there (there is an epi for a child who is allergic to bees, though).

So ... what's the problem? I guess I can't help shake the feeling that the place does not appear too clean and that I would have to rely on their conscientious effort to wipe down tables and the classroom after lunch (they eat in the classroom). Seeing as my daughter will not be at lunch every day, it would require even more of an effort on their part to keep everything safe and remember to do so, despite her not being there.

I really feel like this director has the best of intentions and is trying to be very accommodating, but I'm not certain if she herself knows what she is getting into and not quite sure if I trust her to carry through.

Has anyone had anything similar with their preschool experience (especially where the kids eat in the classrooms and PB is allowed) and how has it turned out for you? How safe is this? Am I just being a total worrywart, since this is the first time I will be leaving my daughter in the care of someone else (she has not even been left with a babysitter before, so this is a big first step for both of us, but MUCH NEEDED for us both).

Thanks in advance for reading and for any responses!

Posted on: Sat, 06/07/2008 - 7:31am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

I don't think you're a worrywort. I think whenever you hand a child with a medical condition over to, essentially, a stranger, you need to have all of your ducks in a row. That's what you're trying to do.
[b]Basically, the director said they would send home a note to all parents saying please refrain from sending in peanut products for snack[/b]
Are you allowing 'may contains' into the classroom? Has the teacher been educated as to how to read labels? It's been my experience, that the note helps, but in no way guarantees that people will actually comply. In fact, I've found that time after time, other parents forget. Even the nicest of parents. It's just not [i]their child[/i], you know?
I would suggest running a 'what if' scenario with your teacher. What will they do if nutty snacks are brought in? If may contain items are brought in (and you do not want your child around them) what will they do?
I do not like the idea of PB being allowed in the classroom. At all. I would push hard for a PB free room. Children are messy, PB is sticky and it doesn't take much for contact to become ingestion when you're dealing with little ones with busy fingers.
The aide sitting with your child at snack time sounds great if they will actually do it [i]all of the time.[/i]
I hope this will be a postive experience for you and your child. It is a big step, isn't it?

Posted on: Mon, 06/09/2008 - 12:41am
cristym's picture
Joined: 11/19/2007 - 17:26

Quote: It's been my experience, that the note helps, but in no way guarantees that people will actually comply. In fact, I've found that time after time, other parents forget. Even the nicest of parents. It's just not their child, you know?
I agree with Krusty Krab. Not to long ago I was the other parent and I forgot. It was not intentional, I just plain forgot.
This is what worries me, and why I am so nervous about sending the girls to pre school next year. I know that if it is not your child it is not always something you think about when grabbing a snack or packing a lunch for your child. I am lucky I found a pre school that povides all snacks and is willing to be Peanut and Tree nut free. They have agreed that I should read the labels of all foods that will be served to the kids, to be sure that nothing was missed. We are on the waiting list, but I am willing to wait, just so I do not have to worry...or, atleast I do not have to worry quite as much!
Also I would ask about birthday celebrations, even though it is a morning program, their may still be treats brought in for birthdays. The way I am going to handle it is to as to be notified if their is a bday celebration and I will bring in cupcakes for my girls to eat.

Posted on: Mon, 06/09/2008 - 2:46am
nutty1's picture
Joined: 02/24/2008 - 12:46

I have been in your situation before. My son is 4 and is the first PA child to be in their daycare center all day. When he was diagnosed, I went in and talked to the director and teachers, gave them articles to read, went over the action plan, and showed them how to use the epi-pen. His class eats in a cafeteria and they servePB once or twice a month. My sons sits at his own table on PB days. I sent home a note to the parents, although I think the school should have done it but I wound up doing in myself. So far so good, but I do worry about him having a reaction quite a bit. There also is no aid that watches him eat- and so far we have been ok. They are served 2 snacks per day, and many times its granola bars and stuff that are 'may contains'. What I do now is I bring in a bag of snacks for him that the teaches give to him daily, he doesn't eat any snacks from the school. They also give me a monthly menu so I know what they are serving for lunch. If I see PB on the menu then I pack his lunch for that day. All I can tell you is that most if not all of the Commercial Daycares such as Kindercare, Chesterbrook Academy, La Petit Academy- are ALL peanut free and their staff are trained in food allergies. I am thinking of transerring my son to one of these places for that reason. They are more expensive than the individually run/private daycares, but the safety would be worth the extra $$ to my husband and I. You can send your child to these commercial daycares for 1/2 days too, ie preschool.

Posted on: Mon, 06/09/2008 - 8:15am
ctmartin's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007 - 09:00

hi, everyone!
thanks for your replies!!
[b]krusty[/b]: i am not worried about may contains, because i am pretty certain the director WILL follow through and have the aide sit with my daughter ALL THREE DAYS. my focus is on blatant peanut products, and i plan to initially read the labels myself and also educate the teacher, although i don't think it will be a problem as we are only focusing on products that actually contain peanuts. they already mentioned they will send anything home that contains peanuts (and because they do the snack basket monthly, i don't think any child will be without a snack, unless all they have brought in are peanut products!!)
i agree, though ... i am really not comfortable with peanut butter being eaten in the room, which is where i am at right now ... still undecided. i just don't know how successful i could be at encouraging this school to go peanut free, considering my daughter will not even be there at lunchtime.
[b]cristym[/b]: birthday celebrations are done ONLY after lunch (whew!)
[b]nutty1[/b]: unfortunately we live in the city, and there are tons of private preschools (mostly church affiliated) and none of the big name ones such as the ones you suggested. if i absolutely HAD to send my child somewhere, i would drive the extra miles, but this is more of a social outlet for her, and thus not necessary so we may hold off until we feel comfortable somewhere.
i spent the morning on the phone with other area preschools and there seems to be no viable options out there. out of 4, all 4 eat lunch in the classrooms and are not peanut free. it's strange because i thought i would feel more comfortable with a school that had PA kids currently attending, but due to differing comfort zones, i'm not sure that is the best bet, either.
you think those schools would be more educated, but they are the ones that keep the epipens locked up and don't see anything wrong with eating peanut butter in the classroom. TWO of the directors said to me, "oh, yes as have PA kids here ... some are even serious enough to require epi pens." HUH?! i'm lost!!
i may speak with the original preschool again, but i feel like it is going to be tough to send my daughter there and HOPE that they adequately clean the classroom after the kids eat lunch. again, is there anyone out there who has had their kdis attend a preschool where PB was consumed in the classroom? would love to hear how this has worked out for you!
thanks, guys.

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