Hi everyone, I am in need of some advice and feedback from all of you with young children in elementary school. I have a 1st grade child who entered the public school for the 1st time this year. She has life-threatening FA to peanuts & some treenuts. She was previously in a small pvt. nut-free school from PK - Kind. She was accustomed to eating lunch in her classroom, with her peers, in a nutfree environment.
Upon entering the school, I requested a 504 plan. All of our requested accomodations were approved. We have a one-on-one aide at lunch and during recess (kids are allowed to eat outside at our school). The classroom is completely nut-free. My issue is completely a socialization problem. The cafeteria has a nut-free table. She is the only child who sits at it. Recess immediately follows lunch. Children who have sat together at lunch seem to automatically stay together during recess. I work at the school part-time and have stopped in at lunch and recess. Sadly, I find her alone nearly every time. Friendships are not really fostered in the classroom because the children are at work and not really allowed to socialize at that time. My daughter is also painfully shy and didn't know any of these children when she entered the school.
I spoke to the 504 Coordinator about my concerns, and now the school will "make" another child who has purchased lunch (all school lunches are nut-free) sit at the table. This was a nice gesture, but the children never do this voluntarily. They refuse to do it again so there is no continuity and my daughter never really gets to know them. They are often kids that aren't even in my daughter's class so she doesn't know them outside of lunch, either. She has been begging to homeschool, telling me that she hates school (as compared to last year, when she loved it and had lots of friends). I have to admit that the stress of making sure the school adheres to the 504 plan has been overwhelming at times (we have already had one follow-up meeting because the plan was not being followed correctly). I am tempted to take my daughter out of school but I was wondering if anyone else has confronted this issue...the isolation piece for kids who are not able to sit safely with other children. I see how much fun my older non-FA child has at lunch and recess and my heart breaks for my child. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Thank you, Lisa in MA
On Dec 23, 2008
Do the other children know that they can sit there? We have a nut free table at our school also, and I went in (I'm the school nurse) and spoke to the class about the peanut free table. I let them know it was ok to sit there, but they needed their lunch checked first. The hot lunches are always nut free. There have been a couple of times that he has been alone, but usually, the table is full.
The other option (which may not be an option for you), is to let her sit with anyone she wants. We have two other children with life threatening FA's, but their mothers don't want them singled out and allow them to sit wherever they want. So far, it has not caused any problems, but again, this might not be something you are comfortable with. Everyone has their own comfort level! Whatever you do, I hope things change for her soon. Elementary school can be hard enough.
On Jan 2, 2009
Your child also entered after other kids had formed some friendships last year so that's another thing maybe affecting things. What helped my son was me arranging play dates with some other children in his class. I would ask your daughter which children she likes most and then invite them over to your house. My son's closest friends like to sit with him at snack and lunch.
Also, I sent a letter to other parents saying that DS sometimes ended up sitting alone but that he would love to have others sit with him and I listed lunch ideas. This seemed to help. Good luck!
On Jan 10, 2009
Hi~ Took your advice and have invited two little girls over for "playdates". It has really helped! Both of those girls have eaten at my daughter's table this past week as a result.
Thanks for the advice....it's funny you just don't think of common sense ideas when you are "in the thick of it".
By mammasgirls on Apr 2, 2009
Hi, we faced the same issue at the beginning of the school year last fall. I arranged play dates but I also connected with the other mom's and planned ahead of time with them for their child to sit with my DD. I even packed an extra lunch one time so a specific child could sit with her. I understand your concerns and faced them also with my DD but things have all worked out well.