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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 7:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:22 am
Posts: 51
Location: Toronto, ON
Yesterday was my son's first day of school (JK) and the school has been very eager to work with me to plan a safe environment for him. I had meetings with all his teachers this week, did a formal presentation on allergies at the staff meeting and was also asked to present at the parent's assembly on the first day (the principal thought it would go over better coming from a parent speaking to other parents rather than just another set of rules added to his longer list of school policies). The presentation went very well - the principle did the introduction and I explained the situation with my son and asked for 2 things: 1. that all parents abide by the peanut/nut-free policy including washing hands and faces following consumption of these items at home. 2. that parents reinforce the 'no sharing food at school' policy - explaining that my son is only 4 and cannot be expected to always remember to refuse a treat if it were offered to him.

Towards the end of my presentation, other parents of children with food allergies starting chipping in with their concerns - specifically around the number of birthday parties and other events hosted at the school that involve food. In my case, the situation is clear - my son cannot have any food that does not come from our home as he has too many allergies to contend with - so I will always provide alternate treats for him at parties. For many of the other parents whose children simply have peanut/treenut allergies, they would like to either stop the birthday parties all-together or request that the parents provide cakes only from approved 'nut-free' bakeries.

The principal suggested that the group of parents with allergic children get-together and propose a policy around birthday parties at the school. My question is: has anyone done this before and are you aware of good policies that can perhaps meet the needs of most of the parents in the school?

_________________
Son 7 yrs: Anaphylactic to eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and allergic to soy, animals & environmental + Asthma.
Daughter 9 yrs: No allergies!
Me: Allergic to animals & environmental.
Hubby: Allergic to deer, horse flies & bees.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:03 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
I can't say that this is a school-wide policy, but my son's teacher on her own sent a newsletter home to all parents in my son's class asking that parents refrain from bringing in cupcakes (or any alternate treats) on birthdays because of the children in the class with severe food allergies, as well as for the fact that she is trying to encourage healthy food choices in her classroom. She asked that if parents feel the need to do something special to celebrate their child's birthday with classmates, that they can feel free to bring in non-food items like pencils, stickers, etc. to share. Personally, I don't the see the need to celebrate with food at school even taking food allergies out of the mix. Also, when you think about it, it really isn't a "fair" practice, what about children who have birthdays that fall on weekends, or during the summer time? Singing "happy birthday" to the birthday boy or girl at the start of the school day is sufficient in my eyes.


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 Post subject: birthday policy
PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 20, 2006 1:40 pm
Posts: 149
Location: Toronto area
I teach in a school and we have a school policy regarding birthday parties (which are sent home to parents in the school newsletter and in each classroom newsletter).
Basically we state that we have a NO food policy for birthdays, or any celebrations. If parents send in food items (even during halloween) we return it to them. They are welcome to send in stickers, pencils or donate a book to the class.

At my sons' school they also have a no food policy for birthdays. In JK and SK the teacher asks the parent to send in baby mementos to share with the class. If there are any school wide celebrations the teachers buy the food (I've volunteered many times to pick up safe cookies, chips, etc.)

boys' mom


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 6:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6465
Location: Ottawa
Last year there was a note sent requesting that food items not be sent for birthday celebrations. A donation of a book was suggested. I sent The Peanut-free Cafe. http://foodallergies.about.com/od/adult ... eecafe.htm

I haven't seen any note this year (perhaps I'll e-mail the principal). We also send a treats container for those occassions where something has been sent in.

_________________
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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject: bday parties
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:48 pm
Posts: 28
At our son's school a letter was sent home indicating that birthdays will not be celebrated with food at school and that if parents want to send something they can send non food loot bag sort of items ie/stickers or whatever. On the children's bdays the pricinpal announces it on the PA and the child gets to wear a party hat while the class sings happy bday. Then they get to go to the teacher's "treasure chest" to pick out a non food treat. Our son picked a skull ring on his bday (he's 4 and in JK).
Good luck with it. At the end of the day we all just want our kids to be safe.
Take care,
Allergy Mom


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:24 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
I would be very careful with this one if I were you. I would make sure that any "no more birthday party" rule was coming from the school, and not perceived as coming from your group of allergic parents.

Last year a preschool teacher told me " We can't have birthday parties any more because of the kid's with peanut allergies." That's a lot of guilt to lay on very small shoulders, and if that's the way the message is conveyed you can be sure that your child will hear about it, and be blamed for it. Schools are shifting away from having individual birthday party celebrations for many reasons. These include: obesity, having to deal with 30 kids on sugar highs, once a week or more, the mess, the competition and unfairness it showcases (last year, at one party in my class, birthday hats were provided for the child's "friends", all the others went hatless, - you have no idea the power and misery a set birthday invitations in the wrong hands can produce until you've seen it), allergies, other medical issues, religion, vegetarianism etc, are all reasons that all kids do not eat the same foods. No matter what you decide for a policy, make sure that ALL the reasons are presented, and it is not just that it is the kid's with allergies faults.

Personally, having worked in a school for a while now, and having been one of the worst offenders as far as bringing sugary treats to school, I think that schools should be seen as places of learning, and that celebrations should be educational and wholesome. Birthday parties should be provided by parents, on the parents time, not on the teachers.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:37 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6465
Location: Ottawa
aaronsmom said-
Quote:
schools should be seen as places of learning, and that celebrations should be educational and wholesome. Birthday parties should be provided by parents, on the parents time, not on the teachers.

I couldn't have said it better!

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:49 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:22 am
Posts: 51
Location: Toronto, ON
Thank you aaronsmom. I really appreciate your perspective - especially that we should frame our policy so that it doesn't appear to blame our children with allergies for the lack of birthday parties, but instead points out all the other health, inclusiveness etc...reasons as well.

The suggestion from Susan for the book donation is a great one - especially for our school which is still young and could use the resources.

_________________
Son 7 yrs: Anaphylactic to eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, tree nuts and allergic to soy, animals & environmental + Asthma.
Daughter 9 yrs: No allergies!
Me: Allergic to animals & environmental.
Hubby: Allergic to deer, horse flies & bees.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6465
Location: Ottawa
I think this website http://www.thetoymaker.com/Holidays/BIRTHDAY/1birthday.html has some great ideas!

I'm going to suggest that the teacher make the cake box out of craft foam and put It's My Birthday! stickers inside it to celebrate the students birthday if they feel it's important to do so.

Cheap, easy and no cleaning up required.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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