Starting school, whether primary or secondary, can be a daunting experience for both parents and children. If a ‘new starter’ has an allergy however, it is essential that both the child and their parents are confident that this will be managed effectively.
Communication is key
Establish open communication channels with your child’s school. Inform teachers, administrators, and the school nurse about your child’s allergies, triggers, symptoms, and emergency action plan. Ensure that they understand the seriousness of allergies and are prepared to handle any potential allergic reactions.
When talking to teachers and staff about your child’s allergies, discussions should cover the following.
- Causes, symptoms, and treatment of your child’s allergy
- Potential risks both inside and outside the classroom, such as activity lessons, school trips, games, and physical education.
- How staff identify students at risk of allergic reactions and anaphylaxis.
- What preventative measures are in place and what they would be willing to adapt on if they are currently not suitable to your child’s needs.
- The school’s first aid and emergency response procedures.
- The staff’s role in responding to an allergic reaction.
- Where medications such as AAIs are kept and how accessible are they.
Regularly update information: Keep all information regarding your child’s allergies up to date and be sure to inform the school of any changes in your child’s condition or medication.
Stay involved: Stay actively engaged with the school community. Attend parent-teacher meetings, school events, and allergy-related workshops if available. Building a supportive network within the school can help make sure that everyone is educated and attentive to your child’s needs.
Build a network: Connect with other parents of children with allergies. Share experiences, tips, and resources to create a supportive community.
We understand that often for younger children, it may be difficult for them to understand their allergies and how to avoid potential triggers. When your child suffers from allergies, as parents or carers, you can ensure their home is as safe as possible, keeping allergens out of the home as much as possible. When starting a new school, in an unfamiliar environment, this is not always as easy.
Empower your child to advocate for themselves. Teach your child about their allergies, including what they are allergic to, how to recognise symptoms, and how to avoid allergens. Encourage them to speak up for themselves, read food labels and seek help if they feel unwell or notice potential risks.
Once your child has settled in, encourage them to openly talk about their allergies with a close friend and/or teacher, so others in the classroom are aware of what to do if a reaction occurs.
If your child is experiencing anxiety with starting school, download our factsheet below on understanding anxiety.