before we even get to the list of how to approach this, let me be super clear that the very most important part of this whole topic is having great communcation with your child's teacher. being able to work together is crutial - it's unrealistic to expect the teacher to think of everything, and it's equally impossible to expect you, the parent, to anticipate the teacher's every plan. so communicating frequently is your best bet, to talk through what is upcoming and ensure that what those plans require is going to maintain a safe environment for your child. so if you zone out from here on, and forget everything i'm about to say, remember that: work together with the teacher, bring her a starbucks every so often, and be a team for the best of your little bug.
now onto the list...
a cool mama with some cool ideas
this might be my new favorite lunch idea website
or try this one on for size
and if you need any more ideas, log onto pinterest and search "gluten free kids lunches" and your will be all set!
aside from what these snacks and lunches will consist of, we have a couple other things to think about: hands, tables, and boundaries.
regardless of the age of your child, he/she needs to thoroughly wash his/her hands before snack time and before lunch. it's a very safe assumption that there is gluten all over the classroom, and therefore all over little fingers. let's use that knowledge to our advantage and ensure that those hands are spick and span prior to eating (or nose picking).
same goes with the surface that these guys are eating on - whether it's a desk or a table, it needs to be clean before our kiddos eat on it. in preschool and kindergarten classes, this is common practice so our bases are covered. beyond that, an easy solution for both your peace of mind and your little johnny's convenience, is to send a gluten free wipe in a ziploc each day and have him just give his desk or table a quick wipe. you can definitely get more creative from here in terms of using more sustainable materials, such as using a small cloth that you prepare with water and maybe a little dish soap, which you can wash and send again another day. either way you slice it, make sure that surface is clean.
boundaries - let's talk about those. the earlier your mini-me knows the rules, the easier school is going to be. while keeping food fun, make sure he/she knows that under no circumstance should a classmate or buddy touch his/her food. if that should happen, that food container and whatever is remaining in it should be tossed or sent home untouched. it's not worth the risk! in this case, perhaps he/she can nab a treat from the teacher's secret gluten free stash to make up for the loss of this food!
2. crafts and supplies.
3. airborne flour.
4. birthdays/special events.
*possibly the most important thing to be aware of for birthday snacks or special class events: be very clear with the teacher that under no circumstance should your child be allowed to indulge in a snack brought by someone other than you, unless you've checked it out and given permission. this has happened to us, where the teacher assumed that the fruit plate would be a safe option for dane to partake in. however, she didn't realize that the parent who brought in that fruit plate may have chopped it on a cutting board that previously had contact with gluten, or they may have had hand cream on, or may have chopped and plated it in a kitchen where he/she had just done some baking... (ie. airborne flour). nothing should ever be assumed safe unless you've been given the opportunity to ask the appropriate questions about it! this conversation needs to happen with the teacher as close to the beginning of the school year as possible.
*i also highly recommend stocking some extra snacks with your child's teacher or in the staff room freezer, if needed. collect some really exciting snacks, package them in a small rubbermaid clearly marked with your child's name and "gluten allergy" if the snacks are safely packaged, if it is a frozen cupcake, for example, i would go one step further and label it with "severe gluten allergy, please handle with gloves". this way you have the peace of mind of knowing that should another mom or dad arrive with a surprise snack (which has happened for us) your little munchkin will have a great treat as well!
5. songs with actions.
okay, we've covered the basics. there will be a few other hurdles, such as hot lunch, that we'll talk about as we get settled into the school year. if you haven't, be sure to read the blog just prior to this one (find it here, or scroll down) to find the out of classroom preparation you'll need to do in order to effectively create an environment and school experience in which your child can thrive.
you're almost there! if we do it right, this learning curve only needs to happen at the beginning of each school year with each new teacher. after that we can all take a deep breath and let the system we've set up do its' job! hang in there -