As the caretaker of a child with type 1 diabetes, you know how difficult it can be to make sure they are prepared to handle the condition on their own. While sending them off to school without your supervision might be nerve wracking, there are steps you can take to ensure they will be healthy and safe.
These three tips can give you some peace of mind:
1. Talk to the school staff
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest alerting your child’s teacher, in addition to the school administration, that he or she has diabetes. Give the instructor an overview of what that means for your child. If there are any off-limit foods or activities, the teacher should be made aware. This is especially important for young children, who often attend in-school birthday parties with cake, ice cream, or other sugary treats and are not yet able to fully understand the consequences of eating these types of food. You will feel more comfortable knowing your child's educator is keeping a watchful eye on them.
The American Diabetes Association recommends creating a Diabetes Medical Management Plan with your physician and sharing it with your kid's school. Include important information, like the typical symptoms your child experiences when they have low blood sugar and what doctor-recommended foods are used to treat this. Be sure to note whether or not your student is capable of giving himself or herself injections, or whether he or she will need to have the nurse help.
Talk face to face with your child's teacher prior to the school year beginning, and help them out further by printing out the information you want to go over with them. Remember: they have 20+ other students to look after. Help them remember yours—and the information—by giving them a reference. Diabetes may be new to them, and they don't know all the ins and outs like you do. Make sure you have the teacher's email address to let him or her know about any rough weekends or issues your child may have as the school year wears on.
2. Create a supply pack
In addition to giving your child a medical identification bracelet, the CDC suggests sending them to school with a kit that includes essential items for their condition. Include:
- A meter with extra batteries
- Testing strips
- Antiseptic wipes
- Syringes and pens
- Snacks that can quickly raise blood glucose levels, like raisins, hard candy, or soda. (Check with your doctor to confirm the best choice for your child, and make sure the child knows it is only to be eaten in an emergency.)
Even if your student uses an insulin pump, include syringes and pens just in case. Ask the school to make sure the nurse's office has a glucagon kit.
Set a monthly reminder on your phone to inspect the contents of the kit in case items expire or need to be replenished.
3. Talk to your child about food
It is important to discuss a nutritious diet with your child. Let them know that it is an essential component of their diabetes care. Start his or her day off right by serving a healthy breakfast to give them energy and maintain a healthy blood glucose level. This may include eggs, low-fat dairy products like yogurt, and/or lean meats.
The CDC recommends packing their lunch; this way, you have control over what exactly is in your child's food. Use healthy ingredients like whole grains, low-fat turkey, low-fat cheese, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Pack extra snacks if he or she stays after school or goes to a daycare facility.
If your kid insists on buying lunch, look online at the cafeteria's meal plan with your child and choose the healthy options together. Use it as a bonding experience as well as an educational moment to learn about proper nutrition.
What tips and tricks do you have to share with the community about how you manage your child's diabetes while they're in school?