Starting school is one of the most important and exciting milestones for our children. When a child has severe allergies, it can turn this exciting event into a very stressful time. However, with careful planning and open communication, the stress can be eased.
Management of the risk of anaphylaxis can be challenging because risk can never be totally removed. It is important that we implement a range of strategies to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Many of us would like to ban allergens but this strategy does not work in reality. The risk is manageable if people are educated and strategies are implemented. It does not mean an allergic reaction will never happen but will hopefully mean teachers/carers do what is reasonable to reduce risk, recognise a reaction promptly when it happens and administer an adrenaline/epinephrine autoinjector according to the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. Read more on
Approaching the management of anaphylaxis in schools/childcare (Discussion Guide309.8 KB)
Twelve months and counting
Meet with the principal and explain your child’s medical condition. Encourage the school to join Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia so they have easy access to support, information and resources they need to allergy-aware environment. Parent 10 point Plan for School
Arrange progressive meetings to discuss how your child’s risk of anaphylaxis will be managed and how all staff will be informed and trained.
Discuss with your school principal whether integration aides are available at the school to assist during at risk times, such as morning tea and lunch.
Discuss the school’s stance on food sharing and encourage implementation of a non-food sharing policy.
Encourage your school to learn more about our Be a MATE program
Final countdown to big day
Prepare an individualised Action Plan for Anaphylaxis for your child in conjunction with your doctor and provide a copy to the school. This is essential, even if the school already has children at risk of anaphylaxis attending the school.
Discuss the possibility of attending school with your child for the first few days until you and staff are more comfortable. This provides support for your child’s teacher during the early days of getting to know 30 kindergarten children.
Beyond Day 1
In the canteen ...Organise a visit to the canteen to see what foods are stocked and how you can work with the canteen and school staff so that your child can purchase safe foods. Consider volunteering in the canteen. Some parents choose to place a photo and notice on the canteen wall informing workers not to give their child food., updating it as the child gets older and their needs change. (Purchase the Canteen Checklist for Managing Food Allergies)
For excursions, sports days, other special days,...Ensure your child or their teacher carries the emergency medical kit and remind teachers of the importance of having a mobile phone for emergency contact if required.
Seek help from teachers asking the other children in their care NOT to offer any food to your child. Explain using key phrases like ”she/he gets very sick” and “has to go to hospital” if she/he eats someone else’s food. This usually has a big impact on little children and helps them understand how important it is not to share food with your child.
Providing schools with information on food allergy and anaphylaxis so that teachers can include it in their food/nutrition lessons will help educate your child’s classmates about life-threatening allergies. This creates a much more understanding environment.
Suggest your school implement the ‘Be a MATE’ program – Make Allergy Treatment Easier
Remember to update your emergency care or management plan annually or sooner if there has been a change in your child’s condition, following an at-risk situation or after an anaphylactic reaction.
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia has many resources such as storybooks and DVDs to use in the classroom. Visit our online shop.
Content updated December 2015