Going back to school can be rough for those children on a gluten free diet. Preparing older children entering middle and high school on safe foods is easy, but what do you do when you have a young child entering preschool or elementary school? Teaching a young child the difference in what they can eat and what they cannot is difficult. For a parent knowing their young child will be exposed to different foods and snacks without their supervision is nerve racking. Well it’s time for those parents to breathe easy as there are steps you can take to ensure your child remains healthy.
Make arrangements with the school.
– Take the first step of registering your child’s medical needs with the school. Obtain a letter from your pediatrician stating your child’s diagnosis and/or why there is a need for a gluten free diet. If your child has Celiac Disease the school must adhere to the 504 plan and accommodate the food disability.
– Meet with the school’s office staff, nurse, cafeteria employees, and your child’s teacher to educate them on your child’s gluten free needs. Sometimes it is handy to have a pamphlet or print out of approved foods versus non-approved foods. The more education the adults in your child’s life have the better.
– If your child is eating lunches prepared by the school make sure you have check vendors and labels for the menus. If leaving nutrition of your child up to the school is too difficult for you, try packing a homemade lunch. Not only will you maintain peace of mind but your child will be eating safe and favorite foods.
– Check with the school to see if you may store gluten free snacks, treats, or cupcakes in a freezer in case your child may need it. There will be many times during the year that your child will be faced with celebrations in the classroom. It is not fair for your child to be unable to share in the treats, so make sure you may keep backups on hand or are aware of these parties ahead of time.
– In pre-school and kindergarten crafts often involve food based products. Arrange with your child’s teacher gluten free options for these crafts to have on hand. These would include gluten free play-dough, beans, rice, and rice pasta.
Educate your child.
– The younger the child the harder this talk may be, but it is important to teach your child what foods are always safe and good to eat.
– Make sure your child is aware that if he/she is unsure of the food’s safety that it is okay to ask an adult.
– A great tool to teach the young ones is the phrase “When in doubt, go without.” This rhyme will help the child remember that not all foods are good for them.