The most recent statistical research seems to indicate that roughly half of all children in the United Kingdom are affected by allergies and this number is actually on the rise. What this means for the kids of the school age is that if they aren’t personally affected, the chances are significant that they will have a classmate that will be. When away from home, the most important things that can ensure safety of your child and others are awareness and education.

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Naturally, if you have any reasons to suspect that your child might have an allergy, you should contact a doctor and ensure that he gets tested and receive a diagnosis, if needed. Quick action is essential here as the severity of allergic reaction can change erratically and in some cases even result in anaphylaxis.

By identifying an exact trigger of your child’s allergy, you can make sure to avoid them as much as possible and thus reduce the risk of a potentially severe allergic reaction.

Of course, every parent will agree that avoiding exposure to triggers is much easier in a controlled environment such as family home, as opposed to new and unknown environments. However, they cannot be avoided and school is the first example that comes to mind. This brings the question of what can you do to ensure your child’s safety once school starts.

Safety considerations at school

For most parents, sending a child off to school for the first time is something huge and more often than not a bit daunting. This so mostly because at that point parents have no other choice but to entrust the safety of their children to the teachers and school staff without having direct control over that environment. This is stressful enough without additional concerns about a possibility of an allergic reaction.

So, parents will naturally try to find ways to ease their concerns and ensure the safety of their children while at school. Luckily, there are several measures you can take to ensure your child’s school is thoroughly prepared for their allergy issues.

The first thing you should do is meet with relevant teacher or staff member to discuss your child’s allergy management plan. The odds are high that your child’s school has experience with allergy-prone children so they might have already developed certain procedures and strategies for dealing with the issue.

The most important questions you should discuss include:

  • Specifics of your child’s allergy – what are the triggers and what are the symptoms
  • Medication – which medications does your child use, is there anyone qualified at school to administer the medicine if needed
  • Emergency procedures – what should be done if your child experiences a severe allergic reaction (potentially with anaphylaxis) during school time
  • Catering specifics – is the food available at school safe for kids prone to allergies

By doing this you should aim to ensure that your children’s education is not adversely affected by their allergy problems. For some kids, the symptoms of allergy might have an adverse effect on their concentration levels while others might have to take more sick days off school as compared to allergy-free children.

In addition to this, social exclusion that might be brought on by the school absences can also be detrimental to exam grades, so you should plan in advance and develop a strategy to ensure that your child can adapt to the circumstances.

For ensuring the safety of your child in school, good communication with teachers is absolutely necessary. The teacher needs to be aware of the issue so that he or she can act appropriately and contact you if they have any additional concerns.

Typical school activities and allergies

For all children, school is an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy different games and other activities. Being left out of all of this can cause unnecessary stress for the child and have detrimental consequences for both grades and further personality development which is why it is very important to ensure that your kid can participate in as many regular children activities as possible.

However, to be able to safely take part in those activities you will have to take certain precautions. These might include, for example, taking extra time after a swimming lesson in order to apply emollient or avoiding certain types of food in cookery classes in order to prevent an allergic reaction.

Again, a detailed talk with your child’s teacher before the start of the term is the best way to raise these concerns and ensure that proper precautions are taken timely.

Concerns about food at schools

As the awareness of allergy problem keeps spreading, more and more school are opting for modifying their catering arrangements in order to ensure that children prone to allergies are safe. In addition to this, many schools in the UK started introducing additional measures, like strict rules about not bringing nuts to school and not sharing their food with other children.

Many parents of children affected by food allergies still prefer that their child takes their own lunch to school and thus ensure maximum safety. If you plan your child to rely on meals provided by school, it is imperative to get information about whether the school is taking proper precautions. In some schools this will include contacting the school lunch providers to ask about the safety of their food and about possibility of customising their offer to make the school meals safe for children affected by allergies.

Listening to what your child has to say

All parents will naturally tend to try and keep their child under control even at school to ensure complete safety. However, you should make sure that this doesn’t go too far – your child should have a say in all decisions related to their allergy. While you might want to protect your kid from the reality of their illness, this approach can actually be rather detrimental to their safety in the long term. Your child should be perfectly aware of their allergies and informed about how to act in certain situations and which triggers to avoid.

When speaking to your child about their allergies or any chronic condition for that matter, you should keep in mind several things:

Language Keep your vocabulary at a level your child can understand
Emotions Remain positive – most children look to adults in order to determine the appropriate emotional response to a certain situation, so you must not show stress in order not to scare the child
Questions Give your kid a lot of opportunities to ask questions and try your best to provide proper answers to them
Resources If you are unsure about how to approach your kid, you can ask your child’s doctor about resources for parents to use when talking to children