Summary: This is the third monthly excerpt about taking type 1 diabetes to school. I shared some tips to help navigate the school day with diabetes and talking about diabetes with other kids. There is an entire chapter in Kids First, Diabetes Second about diabetes management at school including information on 504 plans and developing a working relationship with teachers.
And Then There Are The Parties
You’ve tackled all the logistics of 504 plans, training nurses, and making sure your child is safe at school—and now you have to deal with parties, which present their own set of challenges.
Q’s kindergarten teacher advised parents that birthday snacks should have about 15 carbs, provided a list of possible treats, and said she needed advance notification. Unfortunately, that rarely happened. In fact, I often saw parents walking into school with a tray of gigantic cupcakes. At the time, Q was still on injections, and the nurse was only there for 15 minutes. The only way she could have participated was for me to leave work, which I wasn’t going to do on a weekly basis! The teacher and I decided to keep a stash of Oreo Cakesters for Q to have when guidelines weren’t met. Q actually thought this snack was great. Later, I began bringing the mega-carb birthday treats home for her to have with a meal.
In first grade, the nurse was there more often, so the teachers, nurse, and I decided that birthday snacks would be given right after lunch, and the nurse would estimate the carbs and bolus with her insulin pump. This system worked well for everyone. In second grade, we decided that birthday treats would be given at the end of the school day, and I would bolus for them at pick up. My point is that you need to work with the teachers and nurse to develop a plan so that your child can participate as fully as possible in birthday celebrations.
In addition to birthdays, schools often celebrate Halloween, the December holidays, and Valentine’s Day, which probably involve sweet treats. For me, the best way to deal with these events is to volunteer. You can volunteer in two ways that will help your child participate fully in the celebration.
First, volunteer to coordinate the menu or at least bring some of the food. I’m the room parent for Q’s class, so I get to make the sign-up sheet for party food. At one of the recent parties, the list included carrots, grapes, cheese, drinks, and mini cupcakes—and I signed up to make the cupcakes! By making the treat myself, I know the exact number of carbs so there is no guessing game.
Second, you can volunteer to help in the classroom with the party. When I am at the parties, I can watch how much my daughter eats and give her an appropriate bolus. Even if there is a school nurse, you can probably estimate the carbs and give the bolus a little more unobtrusively than a nurse could
If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can read more on the Kids First, Diabetes Second book page. It’s available widely in print and as an eBook from book sellers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and IndieBound. And if you do read it and find it to be a valuable resource, I would greatly appreciate if you could write a review on any of the online retail sites. Thanks!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to booksellers.
Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.