When August 1st comes around most of us are thinking about getting our kids ready to go back to school. I am located in the Northeast and we do not start school until September 4th! For you southerners "back to school" is literally around the corner.
So what do you do when your child or children have a dietary restriction such as Celiac Disease(CD)? My immediate answer is to be very prepared and organized. As a mother of 2 children with CD I want to share with you what I have learned over the last 10 years.
- Set up an appointment with your child's classroom teacher, nurse and principal before school starts. Exchange cell phone #'s and email addresses with the teacher and nurse ahead of time.
- Provide school personnel with a brief synopsis of CD and what foods contain the gluten protein.
- Ask questions such as how do they celebrate holidays and birthdays. What food related events will your child participate in? You will be surprised to find out that food is a major part of your child's school functions especially in the preschool and elementary school years.
- Ask your child's teacher if you could send home a letter to all of the parents, in your child's class, requesting that they contact you when they are bringing in a food treat for a birthday party. Do not hesitate to ask what the item is. This way you are able to duplicate the treat so your child does not feel left out.
- Keep a detailed calendar of events so you are prepared for your child.
- Ask your child's teacher if it is possible to keep cupcakes, cookies, brownies...etc in the freezer in the "Teachers Lounge". This is a very convenient alternative especially for the working parent who is unable to swing by school to drop of a GF treat for their child.
- Talk to your child ahead of time about situations that might arise in school. If they are unsure if a candy or other food item contains gluten they should ask an adult. If the adult is unsure then it is best to just stay away from that item.
- Teach your child about CD early on when they are 1st diagnosed. Eventually they will be on their own. Early education will lead to an independent, confident child.
- Always have the GF ingredients or GF mixes on hand just in case a last minute party arises. I highly recommend freezing extra cookies, brownies, cupcakes for these spontaneous parties.
- 504 Plan for Celiac Disease: In schools, a 504 plan is a way of making sure that the teachers and other staff understand the ramifications of a child’s medical condition or disability and the need to help the child with special challenges and protect the child from risks. Go to http://celiacdisease.about.com for more information on 504 plans.