How to manage your child’s allergies at school
Whether your child is starting school for the first time, starting at a new school, or simply starting a new school year, it can be a stressful time for families with kids who have allergies.
It’s natural to worry about your child, particularly when you can’t be there to watch over them all day at school.
Generally speaking, Australian schools are quite good at safely accommodating children with allergies. Every child care centre, kindy, or school has a duty of care to provide children with food allergies with a safe and inclusive environment. This means that the teachers and school staff should be educated about allergies, and take all reasonable precautions to reduce risk and act quickly when allergies strike.
That being said, there are some proactive steps you can take to make sure that your child is safe at school and that they can enjoy the excitement of learning and socialising with their peers.
Speak to your child’s doctor
You can begin taking action well before your child starts school.
One good place to start is to speak to your child’s doctor about your concerns and make sure that you have an allergy action plan (or an Action Plan for Anaphylaxis) that details your child’s allergies. This should include any medications that your child is taking, including preventative medicines as well as medicines like an adrenaline/epinephrine injector (such as an EpiPen).
Get in touch with the school
Notify the school as early as you can about your child’s allergy, and make sure that they have policies in place to minimise risk. It might be best to approach this in a way that’s direct without being demanding. You may wish to direct the school to any educational resources that can help them to support your child. The aim is to develop a management plan that ensures that the school is well equipped to prevent risk and treat an allergic reaction should it occur.
Speak to your child
Make sure that your child understands that they have an allergy, and what foods/plants/insects/allergens to stay away from them. Explain that they need to carry their medicine and action plan with them, and be very clear about where they will be keeping it and when to use it. If you’re not sure how to approach this with your child, your doctor or Capital Chemist are experienced in this area and can help you explain it in a way that’s easy to understand.
Put together a kit
Make sure that your child’s medication and allergy plan are kept together in a designated place that’s easy for your child and any caregivers to access. It should be clearly labelled, and you should tell your child and the school where it is will be located so that they can easily access it in the event of an emergency.
Speak to your pharmacist
As the most easily accessible health professional, it makes perfect sense to include your local Capital Chemist pharmacist in your healthcare team, along with your child’s doctor. Not only can they provide you with the medicine that your child needs, but they can also help you to implement strategies to help you navigate your child’s allergies at school. Remember that some antihistamine medicines can cause drowsiness; this may be detrimental to learning and a non-drowsy product may be more suitable.
Plan ahead for special events
Exciting and joyful events like excursions and birthdays can be stressful for the families of children with allergies. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can be fully prepared, and your child can enjoy the event. Once again, speak to your school and make sure that you’re communicating throughout the year about these events, and have plans in place to minimise risk and manage emergencies.
Allergies can be extremely serious. Before your child starts school, be sure to speak to your doctor to get individualised advice that’s specific to your child and their allergy.
For more information on managing your child’s allergy at school, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australi
a have a 10-point Plan for School
that’s a helpful resource for parents, as well as plenty more information.