There are many things to think about before you meet with the staff of your child's school to discuss his diet. Use this worksheet as a brainstorming tool to help you prepare for questions you might be asked at school meetings.
What diet are you implementing? Is it a completely casein- and gluten-free diet? Are there any other restrictions or limitations?
How will you inform the school about changes in your child's diet? Will you provide them with written notice?
How will you communicate with the teacher and other school personnel about concerns over accidental exposures to casein and gluten?
What nonfood alternatives can you suggest for activities where food has traditionally been used in the classroom?
Beads, buttons, or cotton balls for counting and sorting activities
“Good Job” certificates
Sequins, rickrack, craft sticks, buttons, or other craft items for assembling craft projects or decorating worksheets
What safe food alternatives for classroom activities can you suggest?
Gluten- and casein-free raisins or dried fruit
Rice- or corn-based cereal (ensuring that it is casein-free and gluten-free)
Gluten- and casein-free popcorn
Gluten- and casein-free candies or cookies
It can be really helpful to write a letter introducing your child and her dietary needs to the parents of children in her classroom. Include what you are willing to do to make it easier on them; one thing that can ease everyone's mind is asking if other parents will give you advance notice for when they are bringing food to school. That way, you can provide a safe alternative for your child on that day, and she won't have to feel excluded.
It is also a good idea to write a friendly letter to your child's teacher reiterating ideas for nonfood alternatives and safe-food alternatives to traditional classroom food-based activities. In this letter, also include what you are willing to do to make it easier for the teacher to support your child's diet. For example, you can volunteer in the classroom on days when there is going to be food (i.e., holiday parties), or you can provide a safe alternative for you child whenever you are given advance notice.
Ask your child's teacher if you can keep a box of safe snacks on hand for your child, in case a “treat” situation arises without advance notice. If your teacher has something safe to offer, you and he can feel more comfortable that exposures will not occur.