So it’s officially the school holidays which means it’s just a matter of weeks until my baby boy starts school! Like any parent I am full of all the emotions – excited for all his new adventures, sad at seeing him grow up too fast and proud of the smart little boy he is turning into.
I am obviously also anxious about keeping him safe with his food allergies. I have been working closely with his school to create an allergy management plan and I am very relieved and impressed at how proactive and engaged they have been in the whole process.
Some of the steps we have taken include:
- Meeting with the nurse to create care plans
- Running allergy and epipen training for all staff
- Planning allergy awareness training for James’ class
- Organising hand washing and cleaning procedures after lunch
- Creating a list of safe classroom snacks
They also suggested I spoke at the parents’ information evening, which I declined as I didn’t want the focus to be on J and his allergies rather than the needs of all the new children.
So instead, we have agreed I will write something to go in the information packs that every parent receives on their home visit. Last year, Nathalie from Intolerant Gourmand wrote a great letter when her son Callum started school, addressing the parents from his persepctive. So I have taken the same approach and this is what will be going out to J’s classmates and their parents:
Dear Mums and Dads
My name is James and I am joining reception class with your child. I love playing firemen, jumping in puddles and watching Octonauts. I also have serious food allergies.
Just a tiny amount of things I am allergic to – peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, egg, garlic – can make me very poorly and send me to hospital. I carry epipens and have needed to use them in the past but I’m hoping I’ll never have to at school.
We have spoken to the teachers and they are going to work hard to keep me safe but I need your help too. There are are a few simple things you can do:
Limit the amount of easily spreadable food you send in lunchboxes containing my allergens (eg. loose nuts, peanut butter, nutella, hummus, egg mayonnaise)
Encourage your child to never share food
Encourage your child to wash their hands after eating
My Mum and Dad are always happy to answer any questions about my allergies. They understand that not everyone knows as much about it as we need to! So feel free to ask.
Thanks for reading my letter and helping to keep me safe. I look forward to playing and learning with your child.
I’m hoping this will help the other parents understand more about J – they have already seen him going into his settling in sessions with his medpac so probably know there is some medical issue anyway.
As well as working with the school and talking to the parents it is also important J understands his allergies too. We have always talked openly to him about them and are trying to make sure he knows:
- Never to share food or accept any from another child, teacher or parent
- What his symptoms feel like and always to tell a teacher
- How we treat a reaction and what an epipen does
Obviously, making sure he is his biggest advocate is essential as he grows older but at 4, he still can’t be expected to keep himself safe without the support and understanding of others.
I believe we have done as much as we can and feel confident in the school to take his allergies seriously and be prepared for a reaction. However, I will still be crying on his first day of school, tears of pride, sadness and anixety as my little man takes his first big steps into the world.