Starting primary school or heading back after the summer off can be a hectic time with lots of things to do from uniforms, school books and new shoes.
We have put together a checklist for everything you need to remember for your little one heading off to school with coeliac disease.
Inform the teacher on the first day that your child has coeliac disease. Explain that this is an autoimmune condition which there is currently no medical treatment for. Coeliac disease it treated with a strict gluten free diet. The teacher will need to understand the importance of preventing cross contamination during lunch time with other children’s foods. Also, it could be a good idea to provide the teacher with a list of treats or cakes which are gluten free, in case the class celebrates birthdays or has class parties for which the teacher provides the food. Check our food list for suggestions on tasty gluten free snacks. We have a letter ready which you can download from here which you can give to your child’s teacher.
Packing lunch in a panic the night before school or as you head out the door is a rush in every house. Making sure you have your child’s favourite gluten free bread, rolls or crackers at the ready will make it a speedy process. Pack their lunch with lots of naturally gluten free fruit and vegetables. See our lunch box suggestions for delicious gluten free lunch ideas here
It is important to explain to your child not to swap lunch with any of their class mates. Mention to the teacher to keep an eye at lunch time that they children don’t share any of their food or touch each other's food as this can lead to cross contamination.
Having a distinctively coloured lunch box or a lunch box with a name tag could help your child recognise their own lunch box and prevent it being mixed up with another child’s lunch. This is particularly for the younger class groups.
In some schools there is the option of having your lunch in the school canteen. You should go to the school and speak with the canteen staff about their gluten free options and their protocol to prevent cross contamination.
School trips are the height of excitement for children and being coeliac should not be a cause for concern for you or your child. Speaking with the teacher prior to the school tour to discuss where the children might be stopping to eating and giving suggestions of places which are suitable for coeliac’s. You can check our restaurant list for suggestions on where to eat.
Explaining coeliac disease to your child’s classmates not only makes them aware that they need to prevent any cross contamination. It will also educate the children about different conditions other children can have and help them understand the importance accepting everyone. Your child may like to give the class a talk or presentation telling them what coeliac disease is and what it means to them. Coming from a peer who has the condition may help the children understand better the impact coeliac disease can have on one’s life.