Bringing Type 1 Diabetes to school for the first time is daunting, anxiety ridden and stressful!! This is how I felt for the first time!
… and I don’t even have Type 1, my 3 years old daughter does!
Hopefully sharing our experience of getting her ready for school will help you as you prepare your diabetic child. Our daughter is on MDI’s (multiple daily injections) so far as we move forward to getting her a pump.
Ask the teachers that will be teaching your child next year what they are comfortable with and able to do to participate or learn in your child’s diabetic care.
Public school teachers usually stay away from injecting a child with insulin for liability reasons. Private schools would be different depending on each school — so start by ASKING the teachers.
Ask the questions of them now.
Public Health Nurses are another option, unfortunately they cannot grantees the time that they will be able to arrive at school. For a child that requires a lunch time injection — this is unsustainable,
Your child’s best options for diabetic care at school may be you (or your child’s grandparents)! This is the most common and popular choice according to our local Public Health Unit.
This is the start to planning the direction for your child’s care. Also start a file or buy a binder to organize yourself.
At any Doctors appointment in the spring — start asking questions of your doctor. Ask for diabetes – at school – information, ask for books, or if the doctor can give you pamphlets, or form to look over and use.
This is the time to do your in-depth research.
Even as you glance over the large amount of information that will be given to you, this is your place to start. That feeling of starting and accomplishing the beginning will enable you to calm down and slightly de-stress.
Set up and meet with the teachers that will be the front line workers with your child.
Will you meet with all the staff?
Will you meet with the Principal?
Will you meet with the school board?
Can you meet with just the school nurse?
Who is do you need to meet with?
If you are comfortable sharing what you know — you are literally training the teachers. (what other time does that happen?!).
At this meeting you can bring all of your normal supplies that you will need to show the basics of Type 1 diabetic care. Demonstrating the proper use and changing the insets of the glucometer — To the dialing and injecting of insulin. If you could even get your teachers to train by injecting you… (literally just sticking the needle in and then out of your arm) all the better.
Hands on experience is top priority as these teachers will now join a small portion of the front line work that includes your child’s diabetic care. (And lets face it!… inserting the needle point is the hardest part for first timers!)
You can also prepare a small information package of particularly school care — as well as signs and symptoms of hypo and hyper glycaemia. Focusing particularly how your child reacts to either. (This is were all of your research and asking your doctor for information in months prior will be useful).
We want our little girl treated like all of the other children in the classroom, so we decided that she wouldn’t go somewhere private to do her blood testing.
By being calm and cool and just quietly doing her blood testing right there at the Kindergarten lunch table we are not only training our daughter how to handle her diabetes but also teaching her classmates by our reaction and hers — to diabetes. It’s a great teaching opportunity!
Finish organizing your papers.
Make sure that you have your – doctor to school release of information forms – filled out and signed, sending them back to your doctor. Check and also ask endocrinology if you’ve filled out your child’s ‘Individual Diabetic Care Plan’ properly. Click here to grab your own copy of your form. This is key for any emergency’s the teacher may have with your child or questions that they may need answered straight from the doctor’s office as well.
Encourage this relationship. Teachers are allowed then to go to the hospital and receive specific diabetic training as well, but as this requires extra time and effort of your teachers, if you are comfortable with just the training that you’ve given them that’s fine too.
This is the month of bringing it all together.
All your paperwork should be completely finished at this point.
This is the month to do your diabetic “back to school shopping”. Getting your extra backpack to leave at school full of supplies. Buying a second set of all your supplies… including an extra glucometer for back up and carb snacks as well as sugary snacks packed for the ‘just in case’.
Making the teachers laminated signs and symptoms sign of hyper and hypo glycaemia may be a good idea too. They can hang them in their classroom so that they don’t forget to monitor possible symptoms that your child may be experiencing.
Also, don’t forget to pick up an extra sharpie container at your local pharmacy so that you can leave it at the school.
Now is the month to plan lunches as well.
What does your child like to eat that would make a healthy school lunch?
Even if you don’t write down your foods anywhere that’s fine. (you live and breathe it everyday — so you’ll have a pretty good idea) Just the mental process of knowing what you will probably be doing for school lunches will go a long way to alleviate the ‘school starting stress’.
Clear your calendar.
Especially if you are the one that is driving back and forth to take care of your child lunch time injections.
This will also give you the flexibility to observe and tweak your child’s ‘Individual Diabetic Care Plan’ as you can see what your child’s blood sugars do at school.
Make sure that you have a clearly system of communicating with the teacher. Whether it be through phoning the school, texting the teacher, emailing, or writing in a booklet that would get passed back and forth.
The month that we sent our girl off to school for the first time was very stressful for me as her primary caregiver. I had to let a piece of that care go. She’s only been diagnosed for 9.5 months so thankfully the newness and shock has been wearing off, but sending her to school has been an emotional roller coaster ride. Make sure that you as the primary caregiver of your child has another adult to talk too, whether it’s your spouse or another mom that is a T1D caregiver, or your endocrinology team. Some that knows and understands is important. You will be experiencing a lot this month WITH your child. Give yourself grace.
Hopefully by now things have settled into a bit of a routine, although some of the emotional can linger. Hopefully now that the rush of starting the school year is over — you can take care of some of the details that may make your life a little easier. Would a carb value snack list taped inside of your school snack cupboard make it easier to know what to grab for lunch? Do you need to make a list or prep some baggies with free snacks inside? Think through of ways that may make your morning school routine a little more efficient for you and your child.
I find that driving back and forth to school to administer my daughters lunch time insulin, while it can be seen as a HUGE undertaking —- it actually been a blessing in disguise. I can see her in her classroom. I can see that she is fine. I can let her go a little more, because it’s not about me but her!!
By: Sharon Schuler
PS. I’m not a doctor, dietitian, or diabetic nurse, but I am part of the endocrinology team for my daughters as a parent. Below is a list of information of things we’ve found helpful in getting us started when sending our daughter off to school. While Canadian Diabetic Association has an entire “understanding your rights as a student with diabetes” …. The strongest advocate for your child— is YOU!
As parents — things have happened or not happened because we asked or didn’t ask. Working with the endocrinology team at our children’s hospital has been a God-send, but if you have a question ASK! No one else will ask it for you because no one else know your child’s personality better than you do.
Things You May Need As Your Child Heads to School ->
1) Individual (Diabetic ) Care Plan or ICP Ask you child’s doctor for a copy of this or click here to grab your copy online
2) Information Release Form (for your teachers to contact the nurses or doctor of your child with questions about your child – ask your child’s doctor for a copy of this)
3) Emergency Contact Form (with doctors and their office listed – ask your doctor for a form)
For more parent resources and information — Click here to check out diabetesatschool.ca
Back to School Shopping List — What to Bring to School for T1D (MDI)
– backpack JUST for your child’s supplies
– glucometer and backup glucometer
– test strips and back up test strips
– alcohol wipes
– needle heads
– small needles (just in case pen doesn’t work)
– insulin pen
– insulin in and loaded into pen
– snack to treat lows plus icing or honey to treat dangerous lows
– carb snack for back up
– sliding scale
– sharpie container
– anything else that you would use at home … send it to school
School Lunch Ideas
- – Crackers and cheese
- – Apple
- – Unsweetened applesauce
- – One chocolate chip cookie
- – No sugar pudding cup
- – Sandwich with protein; egg salad, tuna salad, PB, cheese, lunch meat… etc
- – Fruit Cup in Water
- – small container of raisins
- – Cheese stick
- – Celery sticks with PB
- – Goldfishes Crackers
- – Cucumber slices
- – Carrot Sticks
For more info on healthy eating for School aged children click here.
Teachers Training Aid Click here for online resource at diabetesatschool.ca
1) Guidelines for the Care of Students Living with type 1 diabetes at School
2) Hypo and Hyper Gylcima signs and symptoms Visual Aid (ask your Doctor for these sheets)
3) Mickey Mouse books from Lilly Diabetes (ask your doctor for free extra copies to leave at school, as they are a great teaching tool!)