Back to school for the allergic child

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Back to school for the allergic child
Back to school for the allergic child

If your child has food allergies, back to school surely rhymes with stress, worries, concerns… and many reminders and checks! Here are some tips and advice to better manage this period.


As soon as possible, make an appointment with the teacher, principal, educator and anyone else who may have contact with your child. Prepare a list of questions and write everything down. At this meeting, find out about the school's policies regarding food allergies.

Here are some tips for the parent of an allergic child

  • Ask if all school personnel have training to respond to emergencies.
  • You can agree with the teacher that you bring him a bag containing small food treats in case the other children receive a treat during class hours. This way, your child won't be left out.
  • Also ask where the epinephrine auto-injector will be stored. Your child should carry one with them at all times, but it is safer to store one and more.
  • You also need to know where the lunch boxes are stored so that you can make arrangements for your child. Lunchboxes are sometimes identical, within everyone's reach and a child could put food in your child's lunchbox thinking it's his. You can request to have your child's bag stored elsewhere for added security.
  • In some schools, snacks are taken out of the lunch bag and placed in a bin to save time at snack time. It goes without saying that this procedure is unimaginable for the snack of an allergic child.
  • Ask to be notified of special activities planned in class. For example, if a birthday child is planned and a cake will be shared, you can send your child to school with their piece of cake that day.
  • Also find out about the hand washing policy, as it can be beneficial from a risk reduction perspective.
  • If your child has music lessons at school, they must not share instruments that are put in their mouths. Also ask if food containers are used for crafts or other activities and make an agreement to protect your child.
  • You should also inform yourself about the precautions taken during school excursions and check them before each excursion.

Be Proactive

Try to bring solutions to the school. You will encounter pitfalls along the way and the staff is sometimes short of imagination to resolve delicate situations related to food allergies. For example, if you consider it too dangerous for every child to bring a cake to share on their birthday, suggest other ways to celebrate the child's birthday.

Here are some suggestions: all students do the birthday boy's favorite activity, the birthday boy is assigned special tasks for the day, he gets to choose a gift from the reward box, children sing a song, students prepare a giant birthday card, etc.

Bus transportation

You can call school transport to find out the rules on the bus. Are children allowed to eat on the bus? Also ask if the driver is trained to respond in an emergency.

On your side

Your child's auto-injector must be with him at all times, as well as his inhaler, if he also has asthma. You will have to remind your child of the safety rules in the week before the start of the school year. That is to say: no sharing of food or dishes, washing hands before meals, the child must inform the people around him of his allergy (everyone who is responsible for him as well as his friends). I strongly suggest that you preparecold lunches to your child so that he avoids contaminating his food by placing it in the microwave oven. Also put napkins in his bag so that your child uses one as a placemat. This will avoid possible contamination from a possibly poorly cleaned table. I also suggest that you laminate a brightly colored card on which you have indicated your child's name and allergies. Punch a hole in this cardboard and attach it to your child's lunch bag.

For big kids

When children are older, other challenges arise. If your child is entering high school this year, you will need to have an important discussion with him. Often young teenagers want to “be part of the gang” and for an allergic child, it is not always easy. He must expose his difference for his safety. That is to say, if he has new friends, he will have to inform them of his allergies and advise them of the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency. The danger of kisses will also come. That too, you should talk about it with your child so that he can warn his or her partner. As for school staff, I suggest you “do your homework” as stated above, but your teen will have to do the rest on their own to ensure their safety. Have compassion for your young person and try to help him find ways appropriate to his personality to inform the new young people around him now.

Food Bullying

Be atlook out. There is now a new way for young people to bully those who are less popular, food bullying. This scourge is very real. Some students come to school with peanuts to scare children with allergies. Be aware that schools are not kidding about this and communicate quickly with the school administration if ever your child is the victim. One of the solutions is that your child has a good self-esteem and does not allow himself to be imposed. I don't want to scare you, just inform you.

A few points to remember

  • Always the auto-injector on the child
  • Meeting with school staff (with your list of questions)
  • Also find out about school transport
  • Bag of treats for your child at school
  • Lunch bag identification
  • Offer solutions to difficult situations concerning your child
  • Remind your child of the safety rules
  • Napkin as a placemat in your lunch bag

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