My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to school

Going back to school is often exactly what mothers are looking forward to at the end of a busy summer and kids are dreading.  For some parents though, it is a scary and hectic time of year.  New teacher, new issues, new explaining  and hoping that your child's teacher can take care of them the way you would if they have a physical disability, health concern or food allergy. Yesterday I sent my two high schoolers off to the beginning of their junior and sophmore first days and was able to attend and meet most of their teachers. I flashed back to their first days of preschool and all of the subsequent years after when I had to go in and speak to Lana's teacher about her heart defect and go into detail about every little thing she could, or could not do.  I actually had a letter on my computer that I updated and printed off each year for them and the PE coach to keep in the classroom.  Well, this was the first year I did not have to explain anything about her or her heart condition.  Last year I was still going around and explaining that she had just had a heart transplant and would be absent quite a bit and so forth. This year, she has a parking spot and a car and a full class load preparing her for college.  WOW!

This year it also starts all over for me, Isabelle starts big girl preschool.  No more, Mother's Day Out where her teacher was a celiac and understood everything.  This year we go three days a week in a new school, with new teachers.  Preparing mentally is half the battle.  What I have learned through dealing with teachers the last 15 years is that, they err on the side of caution.  It is rare to not get a teacher that will stop and call you before they give your child something.  Gluten is a tricky one because although it is gaining in awareness, it's still misunderstood.  People do not understand all the things that contain gluten nor do they understand the impact of celiac's disease.  Most people are not anaphylactic but it doesn't mean it isn't serious.  SO, #1 prepare yourself mentally (meet the teacher, talk with the school and know you've done all you can and feel confident that you've taught them and YOUR CHILD well) , #2 talk to the teacher about the allergy in detail/educate her on the disease or allergy, what it means, write a letter if necessary with a list of things that have hidden gluten in it and #3 be prepared.  I've ordered Gfree animal cookies and graham crackers, cereals, crackers, anything that they might be serving for snacktime and I will bring that into the classroom the first day for the teacher to keep on hand.  I also will ask for a list of the birthdays in the classroom and stock the freezer with cupcakes so when there is a birthday celebration in the classroom, I will defrost the cupcake and decorate and bring it to class so that Isabelle can celebrate along with her classmates.  At this stage I still pack her lunch so that is all in my control.  I've also bought moon dough and gfree glue so that she can participate safely with crafts without becoming sick.  I've researched and bought gfree hand sanitzer for the classroom.  Yes there is an expense that goes along with being prepared but to keep her safe and help with the learning process it is well worth it for our family.

These are just some ideas to help you through the start of the school year.  I hope this helps with the little ones. 

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