what to look for in daycare or preschool

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2000 - 5:25pm
tania.n's picture
Joined: 04/10/2000 - 09:00

Hi ,today I was looking for a preschool for my 2 1/2 year old.I am a stay at home with I am thankful for ,but I wanted to sign her up for preschool this fall when she is 3.What do you look for and what do you tollerate for stickness.I don't think anything will satisfy me unless I am running the place myself.I talked to a lady today who was telling me all the wounderful things that the kids get to do,and then she got to the snacktime.I said well she has a peanut allergy.She said that they would check the kids lunches as they walked in ,but that just wouldn't do for me .They would't be aloud to have peanut butter ,but what about all the other items that could be contaminated.So then she went on to tell me about the fieldtrips to places and mentioned saveon foods which is a local grocery chain.I thought bulk bins ,loose peanuts!Then she says they do partys and all the moms bring treats.well that wound't do!!!Oh but she would mabye have to stay home those days to prevent her from eating the food.
WELL NOW WHAT!!!what do you do ?bring them to a preschool that supplies the snacks?only fruit??All I know is that I wasn't comfortable with this one.
What do you do,where do you feel your child is safe.I don't want to be hanging over her shoulders at preschool,this is a time for her to learn and have fun,but I want to feel totally comertable with a teacher that talks to me with the confidents and smarts of allergys like it would be her own child......just curious...thx

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2000 - 10:40pm
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Welcome to the world of school and peanut allergy. As you will soon discover, the world has become a very snack and food-oriented place!! I'm not real sure that you will EVER feel totally comfortable with any preschool unless you happen to be one of the lucky ones that runs across a very conscientious and militant director. They are few and far between. As you've probably gathered from reading these boards, people that don't have peanut allergy, from teachers to family members, just don't get it, even when a loved one is involved. Now, onto the school issue. My son has been in daycare since he was a baby because I've had to work. So, I've been facing these issues for years. The most important thing to find is a center who provides a very limited and predictable menu. I have been involved with centers that routinely use junk food (cookie, cakes, snack mixes) as food and snack. That is unacceptable for anyone. I have been fortunate to find a very small, privately owned (non-chain) day care center. The facility is a bit rundown, and many people probably get turned off because the facility isn't modern (it is 40 years old), but some of the staff have been there up to 15 years and my son has pretty much had the same providers for the past 5 years he has been there. Low staff turnover is important because they KNOW your child. They have a VERY set menu that rotates over a 6 week period. They order their food from one source and it is very easy for me to check ingredients. Peanut butter and jelly is served twice per month which is pretty low for most centers. His classroom is peanut free and on the days that PB&J is served he sits at a separate room with some friends and they have grilled cheese. I feel as comfortable as I can with this. A lot of people would not be comfortable with center-provided food and feel that a PA child should go to a school where food is provided from home. I happen to disagree in that it is VERY hard to dictate to parents what they should bring unless the school is going to play some serious "hardball" (and most won't). There are huge signs in my son's classroom about no peanut butter, the kids and parents are instructed not to bring any peanut snacks in and they do comply. However, on the field trips (even with warning) they still pack the PB&J sandwiches. The staff does their best to deal with this as it is very difficult to tell a young child they can't go to the park today because Mommy/Daddy packed the wrong food. They just can't get the parents to comply, it's a convenience issue plus a lot of young children do not want to eat bologna or tuna sandwiches all the time. I feel that the center has more control if they are prepping the food. It makes MY job a bit harder in screening the food at the center but it is really fairly easy. So, after ALL that, my recommendation would be to find a preschool that is less food oriented. Since you are not requiring full time care, lunch should not really be an issue. She should go before or after lunch. Of course, a snack will be provided but the center should have no problems dealing with a non-peanut snack. This is what you need to find. Also, at age 3, a lot of field trips are really not necessary and, frankly, they make me nervous with or without the allergy. Some centers and home providers are very big on trips and some are not. I happen to disagree with them. My son is in Pre-K (kindergarten starts this fall) and he has really only taken two field trips. The day care center just things it is too much with the young ones and I agree. Find a center that is more low-key I guess. Right now, crafts and artwork, singing, dancing, and social interaction are all they need.

Posted on: Fri, 05/19/2000 - 11:45pm
Kristy's picture
Joined: 04/07/2000 - 09:00

HI Tania.n
My daughter has also( like Christine)always been in a daycare,she will be 4 in august. "M" will be starting her third daycare on june 1st, only because she will be starting P.school in the fall& this daycare works with her school.
I have been very lucky with all daycares & had very little concerns.(really only one)
The first daycare provided all food, the school was Peanut free.M was young enough not to know when treats were brought in that she couldn't have.
The 2nd daycare (current) provides all foods,
they have many allergic children, and school is peanut free.Ofcourse there are "special" days when families send treats she can't have.(I have "back up" food in case)So far M
has taken in stride not sharing with friends.
This is the school I had only one problem with,the supervisor wanted to keep her Epi-pen in a room that was aleast 15 feet from her eating area, through a door in a top cupboard, in a bag, then back to her room. To much time wasted in an emerg. I talked to the health unit, who in turn spoke to the school.
the epi-pen is now in her eating area. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
We haven't had any field trips, but this will happen at the new daycare.
Sorry this is so long, it's hard to stop once you start.
Again I have been very lucky with all daycares, they put my childs allergy above the needs of a child who will "only eat PB".
They down played other kids treats, and her teachers go out of their way to find treats for her that are safe.
There are great schools/daycares to be found that respect the allergic child!
Best of luck!

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 12:53am
Linda-Jo's picture
Joined: 07/30/1999 - 09:00

I went through the same thing when I was checking out preschool for my daughter. I am also a SAHM and only sent her to preschool when she turned 4 for 1 year. I kept her home until then so she could become more familiar with her allergy. All I can say is keep 'interviewing' preschools until you feel comfortable and safe with the staff and the environment she will be in. I interviewed about 5 before I settled on one that was a little bit out of the way, but worth it.
I went to one preschool that was rated 'tops' in our area, very clean, very creative. I really liked it, but when I brought up her allergy, the director (who was a nun!) said, "Well, at this age, we like them to take their own responsibility for what they can eat!" C'mon, she's only 4! I think they still need guidance no matter what age they are!
I specifically was looking for a program that didn't do lunch and as far as the snacks, they worked with me and I sent a letter to all the other parents saying what was 'safe' for her to eat. So far so good! Now, I have to worry about kindergarten next year!

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 1:21am
tania.n's picture
Joined: 04/10/2000 - 09:00

Wow exactly what I was thinking.When she said field trips I gulped....what aren't they a little young?this my first experience with someone else caring for her.I just don,t feel comfortable with a just 3 year old going on a trip to the local market and pumkin patches or whatever peanuts or not.It was the first one I called and kind of just getting a feel for whats out there.I
do agree with you christine that I would feel much more at ease if the preschool provided the morning snack{like fruit,or a healthy cheese and cracker that I know is ok}My neighbour told me that her old preschool was like that and they only had fruit for the kids,which she enjoyed because the kids never ate all that garbage.I didn't think that I would have to deal much with the food issue because it is morning only.
I will make some more phone calls next week and see what I can find.The one I did call was a daycare also which had so many kids in there ,and she said she monitor the preschool{what about the daycare}they had a pa last year and she sat on her own everylunch because they didn't leave out the peanuts.I'd rather find something else I think,just to laid back about allergys.When I speak to someone over the phone ,I think will be able to tell by the first 10 minutes on the phone with someone if this will be a safe enviroment for her.Its just that she is so young still and loves to eat!!!So I will keep looking and hopefully find something.
Thanks for all the great advise.Its sound like you've had a lot of luck kristy in finding good preschools....thx

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 1:57am
rilira's picture
Joined: 11/11/1999 - 09:00

I never sent my daughter to preschool. i am also a stay at home Mom. I was told over and over by people how behind socially my daughter would be etc.. etc.. if i did not send her to preschool. it just was not in my comfort level. In place of preschool I enrolled my daughter is gymnastics and other team sports. We also went to a kids program once a week at our local mall. I felt like she got the socialization this way with the other kids but yet I was still on the premises. I was curious to see how she blended with the other kids when she started school this past year.To quote her teacher my daughter is academically and socially more advanced then most children her age.I really feel like i made the decision that was right for our family. It is amazing how much flak you get from other parents ( almost as much as when they find out we don't want more than our one child!!)Just remember to do what feels best for you.

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 2:58am
shannon's picture
Joined: 05/15/2000 - 09:00

I too am a SAHM, and i sent my non-PA daughter to a CO-OP preschool, I was required to stay in the class and provide the snack once or twice a month and the parents attended any field trips with the children. That class was my first experiance with PA, one of the other children in the class had PA and I was impressed that both of the teachers were educated about the allergy and the use of an epi. because the parents ran the school, they were all very mindful of the PA and did not bring any peanut snacks on the day that they stayed. Needless to say thsi is the same school that I will send you PA son to in 2 years when he reaches three.
Well I hope this will provide you with another avenue to look into and good luck.

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 3:27am
morgansmom's picture
Joined: 04/29/2000 - 09:00

My sister sent her non PA daughter to preschool when she was 3 and I decided that I just too worried about the whole situation, so I chose not to.
When my daughter was soon to be four it was time for Junior Kindergarten. I withdrew her from the class, after two days because it was not suitable or safe. The teacher believed much like the nun that 4 year olds should be able to take care of themselves. ...my daughter is very aware of her allergies, but she's 4, give me a break! She was told to find a safe place to eat on her own, she would and then two seconds later the next kid would sit down with milk and she would have to get up and move, she ended up in tears! I obviously didn't do a very good job in making a safe enviroment for her, but all my requests were ignored, and I was told that perhaps she wasn't ready for school yet because she cried ...and there were many other issues but that's another story. What I did from there though was enroll her in preschool.
Morgan unfortunately knows too much about her allergies, from 1 1/2 years of age her most asked question when discussing food was, "is this my kind?" She's seen me jump when a food allergen is close by, she's seen me take things from her, she's seen the worry when hives appear, she's overheard conversations with allergist specialists etc... It's hard even when you try your darndest not to react or talk in her presence, she still knows. I believe her natural personality is somewhat shy, but add allergies to that and she has become somewhat insecure and has difficulty with socializing. She knows that she is safe when she is with mom and dad. The teacher did not bother to see this, and help her to overcome this fear, instead she said she was not ready for school. Morgan knows when she is in safe hands.
Anyways, all of this background to say, preschool was the best thing I ever did for Morgan and for myself. Our preschool allowed us to be as involved as I wanted to be. I spent the first month attending all of her classes and it was a real eye opener, where allergens could be found, ie. crafts, birdseed, craft smocks, finger paints, play dough etc..
I chose to bring her snack everyday, because she is allergic to more than just peanuts, and it is much easier. The preschool is a coop so we take turns bringing the snack, so I just call the mother who is on for snack and ask what she is bringing and then bring something similar for Morgan. It's really not that much of a bother. The preschool has banned peanut butter because of it's ability to stick to everything and milk, because it's so messy and everywhere when spilled. She sits at the end of the same table, all children wash hands before and after snack and the snack table is washed before and after snack time.
And the best is she's doing great socially, has lots of friends and really does great when she's around her peers!
It has made me somewhat comfortable in a school situation, made me really aware of all the potential problems for alleren contact, and made me confident to tackle the school situation and demand a safe environment for my daughter.
I recently met with the same school we tried last year, and they agreed with all of my requests again, but I'm not feeling all that confident that they will be carried out. One of the requests is that someone that the parent has designated accompanies Morgan on all of her field trips, so far this will only be family members, ie. mom, dad, grandma etc.. Another is that Morgan is notified when there is a substitue teacher and she will stay home that day, unless the substitute is there for a long period of times and full training is complete.
My list is fairly long so won't keep gabbing, the topic was preschool right? lol
Enjoyed this link!

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 7:30am
Lisa M's picture
Joined: 03/07/1999 - 09:00

Hi Tania,
I think you may find a preschool that fits your needs. Are you doing mornings only? That is what I chose for Brett this year when he was 3. He went to a 3 morning a week class and they were very accomodating about his allergies. They used peanut butter as a snack about once a week in prior years but took it out of the entire school this year. I am sure the all-dayers bring peanut butter for lunch, but he is not there then and they eat in their own classrooms so I haven't been too concerned with it. I drive on all field trips or he doesn't go. I also don't understand why they need to go on field trips at this young age. I was not thrilled about the teacher he will have next year so I called another local preschool and when I mentioned food allergies the woman was so agreeable. Yes, she said they had other allergic, even pa, kids there. I asked how they handled that and she said they put the child at a table by himself while the rest of his class eats it. No thanks. That was all I needed to hear. I mentioned that the school he was in now did not serve peanut butter anymore and she said that wasn't realistic and he would have to get used to it in kindergarten anyway. I started appreciating his old school a lot more and have spoken with his teacher for next year. She is aware of his allergies and not afraid of the epi-pen. I don't know if that is good or bad. Anyway, I'm going to bring her, the other 4 year old teacher and administrator lunch a few days before school starts and let them do an expired epi, see It Only Takes One Bite and talk about it. I expect to have another good year. I think a lot of the same kids (and parents) will be in his class next year so that will help. Good luck. Just remember, don't settle if you don't feel safe. You are fortunate you don't *have to* enroll him.

Posted on: Sat, 05/20/2000 - 4:29pm
tania.n's picture
Joined: 04/10/2000 - 09:00

Great ideas from everyone.I really enjoy hearing all the tips and info from other parents that have already have had to deal with this situation of trusting other people with your childs life.I am very over protective in a good way and want only the best and nothing less.I don't want her to feel like shes being left out of anything just because she has an allergy in school , there not there to eat.Its only a morning class{930 to 1130}and there are lots of yummy things they can eat instead .Its not a big deal for a teacher to make that a rule.I don't think anyway.I think that once I get her somewhere and start a routine,go with her on fieldtrips and partisipate in whats going on I'll feel much more at ease.Its just the initial first few times that she goes and I have to get used to it.{try anyways}.If there is nothing out there exeptable I won't send her to preschool but mabye other programs like rilira mentioned.ITs not like I have to do it,but I would like her to do more than what she does with me.To be with children and interact ,crafts,stories,singing etc.I do alot of fun stuff to but its not the same.We had Chantelle{my daughter}in movement and rythem class and she is having so much fun,she smiles and laughs the whole time .Its so good for them.
Anyways i'm drifting again, so thanks alot everyone I'll keep searching.....let you know how I do....Tan

Posted on: Sun, 05/21/2000 - 12:54am
latymom's picture
Joined: 05/21/2000 - 09:00

Well, I have to say, I'm in the same boat as you. My daughter is also 2 1/2 and PA and I fear for the day I put her in someone elses hands. I can't even imagine it right now but I know it's for the best. She does need to get out and be in the world outside Mommy and Daddy. I think when she's in a school environment it will help her learn more about how to deal with her allergy. I will make SURE that everyone that is taking care of my daughter has lessons in the epipien and even sees the video on anaphalaxis (from FAN). We can't hover over them their whole lives and sometimes we have to trust others (qualified) that they will do their best. Believe me, I know no one will ever do as good a job as me in protecting my daughter from nuts but the best we can do is educate and scare the dickens out of the teachers because they do not want a reaction, or worse, a death on their hands!Maybe this fall is a little early.....what about starting her next year?


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