My two and a half year is old is about to start pre school.
I am thrilled to have found a Montessori Preschool near the area where we are moving to shortly. I have read several books on Maria Montessori’s teachings and believe her philosophy is on the mark, it is so compatible with how my son learns, develops and grows.He’ll do well at this preschool. I was even more excited to hear they are nut free, yay he is unlikely to die there from anaphylactic shock. When he is older I do agree that he needs to learn how to live with allergens around him, but at two it is a big ask – he will only have to navigate his dairy and egg allergies.
The anxiety of leaving your kid in the hands of other adults to care for them is scary at any age, the fear is increased when your child has food allergies. Food is such a normal thing for people, we all eat lunch together, some kids do baking together and the thought of little Johnny being excluded from all of that is upsetting. But, that’s life, so I think the take home message is education of food allergies. Education for Mum, for the kid, for the teachers and students.
To prepare my 2.5 year old for pre school, here is what I am doing:
- Talking to the preschool about their food allergy policy, including getting it in writing. I am so thrilled they are nut free!!
- I am taking a copy of Johnny’s food allergy charts and ladders in an organized, easy to follow folder (milk and egg ladder marked with where he is) to the preschool. This way they can see, yes, Johnny can have baked egg/dairy so the bread/muffin that he took a bite of was probably ok but if he had something higher on the ladder then to administer the appropriate medicine.
- Buying an extra epi pen to keep at the school. At this age, it is for the teachers to keep in a safe place. When Johnny is older, I will advocate he self carries his epi-pen as well as has one in the office (although I may have to sell an organ to pay for all these epi-pens)!
- Being over the top at home talking to Johnny about food allergies. He needs to have an awareness that he can’t just eat anything he wants. I talk to him loads about “no, you can’t have Daddy’s eggs because you are allergic”, “No, Daddy’s coffee has milk in it and you are allergic to that” “You must ask Mummy before we have food at this cafe in case you are allergic to it”. Then also reminding him about what happens when he has an allergic reaction, “Stay away from the eggs babe, remember when you opened the egg on your leg and you got hives, it was very itchy and sore, that was an allergic reaction”.
- I am doing a few visits with Johnny there so I can get a feel for food related topics, I will always provide a substitute for Johnny when food is involved so he can participate. This means keeping communication open with the preschool so that I can provide the sub when I need to.
- Sub muffins for Johnny will be kept in their freezer in case it is someones birthday or an event.
- Buying a book on food allergies and watching youtube. There is also an episode on Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood about food allergies.
- I have bought a badge for his backpack from this website: http://www.allergypharmacy.co.nz/shop/Allergy/+Allergy+Alert+Products/+Badges.html
- I have been pointed in the direction of this page, which has resources on starting kindy and specifics on books etc: http://myfoodallergyfriends.com/
Here is a link from Auckland’s Starship hospital on allergy kids going to school, it and much other info, can be found here under their allergy resources:
As I am a PORSE educator, I could just keep him at home with me, but he is such a social little boy who thrives in new environments. I know he will be happy to have some time at preschool and some time at home with myself and the kids I look after.
I am starting Johnny with one visit a week then slowly moving up to two visits, three, four then five morning or afternoon classes as he is comfortable.
It’s exciting! It doesn’t have to be scary. I need to be organized and communicate clearly with the preschool. I figure if I keep involved in the preschool then I will have a better idea of when things are happening so I can peak at the menus.
Onwards and upwards!