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 Post subject: Types of Schools
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:43 am
Posts: 15
I have another question, do you guys find that certain types of schools are better with dealing with allergies? e.g. public, seperate, montessori, etc.....

I hear that the Montessori schools in my city are very good as far as allergies go and am considering switching my daughter there - however, we didn't choose it this year for Kindergarten as we thought, there's no way of guaranteeing her safety no matter where we put her, and we weren't sure that the expense was worth the difference in her education (whether or not it would make a significant difference).... but now are reconsidering. She is also very bright and I worry that she is not being challenged enough in the public school system.

Another option for next year is a fine arts school, I mentioned it to my daughter and she is very interested. I havent called the schools yet though. :)

Apparently our Catholic board here has policies for dealing with allergies (not sure what they are exactly), and public doesn't. The Catholic schools are also "nutrition-positive", which means they discourage pop / candy etc. and I think only have healthy snacks on special occasions.

Some food for thought for next year, anyway. :wink:


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 Post subject: Types of schools
PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:53 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Ontario
I feel that Montessori Schools are always a first choice, if affordable to the parents. That goes with out saying. If You are unsure of the current policy at your childs catholic school in regards to her allergies. Be pro-active and become invoved (if you are in a position to) in her current school system and educate the staff and students. You can make a difference. Realizing that they are pro-health, will not save your little one from an ana. reaction if they are not aware of her allergy. I personally would be concerned with them being 'Allergy Aware'.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 11:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 924
Location: Oakville, Ontario
SaskMom2,

I just read this statement in the most recent issue of FAAN, and it's particularly poignant in dealing with this issue: "Empower your child with the skills necessary to stay safe. Remember, it is important to create a balance between what keeps your child safe and what will promote a developmentally appropriate young person who will eventually have the skills to take on the world."

It's interesting that you should post this right now as it is something I've been considering recently regarding our son's education. Currently, he is attending a preschool program at a small Montessori school (~ 100 children) near our home, and we intend to keep him there until at least the completion of SK equivalent year. This particular school is really is tremendous - in terms of the educational opportunity, and allergy awareness! Our 6 year old daughter attended the same school for 3 years, and we were very happy with the program offered. Of course, when considering whether or not our son would go was a whole different story; however, we knew the school very well, knew of their policies and dealings with allergic children (our good friend's peanut allergic son also went there), and we trusted the staff there. We had several meetings with the school dealing specifically with his allergies and special arrangements have been made to accomodate him in the school - he only goes half days, is exempt from the mandatory food program for this age group (we send his food), and I volunteer in the school so that I can get a really good feel for the school (I'm presently on leave from work, so I have this opportunity). So, for now, this school is great.

Our 6 year old, non-allergic daughter, attends a French Immersion public school (580 kids grades 1 - 6), which I also love, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the way in which they handle food allergic children. I also volunteer at my daughter's school, so I'm getting a pretty good feel for her school as well. There just doesn't seem to be the same level of control and care as at my son's school, although, it could be the difference in the age groups - it's a bit hard to say. The school states that they are allergy aware, and they have big orange signs in almost every classroom stating that there is a child with a particular allergy, plus there are other posters around the building, but I still feel it is not as safe as I would like. For example, my daughter has a little girl in her class who is peanut allergic, and I was volunteering one day when they were playing "Halloween Bingo" - everytime you got a Bingo, you got a "may contain peanut" gummie bear! Last week, at the completion of nutrition education week, they made a vegeatable soup and fruit salad - it sounds great, and for 98% of the kids, it is great, but for my son with multiple food allergies, there is no way he could have enjoyed this activity in the same way as the other kids - the soup had peas in it (one of his allergens), and the fruit salad had pineapple in it (another of his allergens). Honestly, though, with all his allergies, there is no way I would be comfortable with all the handling of the food by so many people. I know the school has other food related activities, and it's pretty hard to keep track of it all. I'm volunteering at my daughter's school every 2nd week, but if my son were there - particularly in grade 1 and maybe 2, I would have to be there a LOT more to monitor the situation. Food is available outside nutrition breaks, so it can be stressful.

We really want our son to have the opportunity to take part in the French Immersion school, however, if we don't feel it's a safe enough option, or if I'm not able to be there a LOT, we may stick with the Montessori school - at least for the primary grades, or until we feel he's mature enough to care for himself. It's a really tough call - you want them to be safe, but have opportunity as well. In our area, if a child is going to take part in the French Immersion program, they must enter at grade 1 - this is part of our dilemma. But, if he stays at the Montessori school, he'll be safe, but there are only 16 children in the elementary class (grades 1 -3). From a social development stand point, I would prefer the school with 20 - 23 children per class. The Montessori school he's currently attending does not offer that. One other consideration regarding Montessori education, as much as I love it, eventually the child will have to move into a more traditional setting - that might be at grade 1, grade 3, grade 6 or even grade 9, but, at some point, the transition must be made, and I've heard it can be difficult for some children.

I think it needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you know of a family with a food allergic child that attends a particular school, you could ask them if they are comfortable with the school and its policies. I've been finding it very helpful to observe the schools "in action", but this opportunity may not be available for you. I think it is very much principal / administrator / teacher dependent, plus, I think sheer numbers may influence the level of care you can expect to receive. My son's school is much smaller, everyone knows him, and there are many sets of eyes observing the activity. My daughter's school is VERY busy - lots of kids, lots of activity, a huge playground... I dunno, I'm personally kind of worried that if my son were in a situation where he needed assistance if he were having an anaphylactic reaction, there may not be anyone right nearby that could help him.

I'd love to hear what others think about this, because I certainly haven't yet made up my mind. Definitely, in the younger years, a school with a high level of care is necessary for our children with life-threatening food allergies.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:07 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:53 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Ontario
I have to give credit to You. What a wonderful Mom.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:17 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:08 pm
Posts: 8
Julie,
I live in Oakville and have a lot of problems with my son's school. Do you mind telling me which Montessori school is that you are so happy about.My son is in public sistem and my doughter is staying home (she should be in jk) since I'm so scared to send her to this school...she also has multiple allergies(peanuts, nuts, eggs and soy)Thank you


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 924
Location: Oakville, Ontario
Hi Malamo,

The school is Trafalgar Ridge Montessori. As mentioned, we are very happy with the school - we have worked alongside the staff within the school as a team in creating an environment for our son that we are comfortable with. I don't think any situation away from home is without risk, but we feel the risk has been minimized. I provided educational material to the staff (how to use the Epipen and the signs of Anaphylaxis), had meetings with all staff members involved with my son and provided an Epipen demonstration. The school asked me to present to the students and teachers within the school, so I did this as well. I found some material on the Safe4Kids website that provided lesson plans for teaching children at various ages about food allergies. I followed this plan (it was about a 2 minute talk) followed by the Alexander the Elephant video, then one of the Alexander the Elephant books (Alexander goes to a birthday party)

The schools asks that parents do not send foods containing peanuts, tree nuts and sesame seeds (the sesame was added at our request). Our son is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, mustard seed, egg, fish, green peas and pineapple. My husband & I felt it was not reasonable to ask for a restriction on all his food allergens not being brought into the school - we targeted those we felt put him at greatest risk. My son does not eat any food at the school other than what we have supplied. But I am always present when food parties are taking place (so far this year, there have only been 2). In addition, if there are field trips (there are 3 in the school year), I make sure I am a parent volunteer. I would not send my son on the field trip if I couldn't be present. Birthday cakes are not permitted to be sent to the school on birthdays, but fruit or veggie trays can be sent. My son does not eat from these trays, but I have supplied alternate food for him that is provided to him if someone sends in a birthday tray (cheese sticks are kept in their fridge, plus some small packages of crackers (Ritz Scubas are peanut, sesame and sunflower free, plus they come in little individual servings). On Fridays the school has "gummie bear day" at departure time, and I have supplied an equivalent treat (Dare gummies are guaranteed peanut free). When my son takes part in snack time, all children wash their hands first (they did this anyway - this was not new), all the tables are wiped clean, and my son's table gets an additional wipe with Wet Ones that I have supplied. He eats his snack on a paper napkin (all the kids eat their snacks like this)

So, it's not perfect, but we are comfortable (I say this, but I still ALWAYS worry!). But, he is learning so much! And he loves school and has lots of friends. As I said, it's trying to find that "balance" in life. We don't want to raise him in a bubble - that's not healthy either, but I find a reasonable approach has worked at this school. I know it doesn't work everywhere, but it's worked here.

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2006 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2006 6:08 pm
Posts: 8
thank you Julie so much
you are great


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