The Allergic Child’s Environment
Remember to consider lessons where an allergic child may take part, and the potential allergens which they may come into contact with. Research has shown that children who have asthma and allergies often have reactions due to triggers in the classroom, so it is sensible to take account of any childhood allergies when planning lessons.
It may be necessary with the parents of any allergic children to check the suitability of materials used in lessons to make sure they will not cause an allergic reaction. It will be helpful if this information is already, or subsequently, recorded in that child's protocol. If more than one allergic child is taught in a group, then it is good practice to keep a record of allergens in the group notes.
When children are at infant school, the class teacher usually has the same children for all lessons and movement around the school may be quite limited as most lessons are in the same area. This makes it easier to assess and control the exposure to allergens.
Some simple steps to reduce allergen exposure at school include:
- Do not let a child with asthma, eczema or house dust mite allergy sit on dusty carpets
- Do not allow a child with hay fever to sit near an open window in the summer
- Minimise exposure to heat sources for children with eczema
- Prevent exposure to allergens when using art and craft products. (This includes glues, paints, and old food cartons that may include food allergens i.e. for crafts and models)
- Take care when creating nature tables, or pet corners with animal foods and touching of pets
- Take care with the choice of class snacks if children have a food allergy
Remember to consider any potential allergens, both inside and outside the classroom, such as for activity lessons, school trips, games and physical education. If a child has an asthma inhaler or an auto-injector adrenaline pen, ensure that these are taken to any sporting area or fixture.
For cookery classes, it may be best if parents supply the ingredients, or ensure that the whole class cooks with ingredients that are safe for any allergic children in your care. However, there may be other children with different allergies who may are not able to use the same ingredients as another child, so the practicalities of this must also be considered.
Last updated: March 2012