School starts next week!
That does not give me much time to connect with my son’s newly assigned teacher to give them the Type 1 Diabetes highlights before school starts. Anticipating this, I start preparing ahead of time.
Help Your Child Manage Diabetes At School
To create a safe environment for your child, it’s wise to educate teachers about managing diabetes at school. Chances are that you know a lot more about it than they do.
The Before-School Meeting
I always send an email to the school nurses at least two weeks before school starts to request a meeting with them and my son’s home room teacher.
In some cases you may have to be persistent and follow up. It is not that they do not want to meet with you, but they have many meetings at this time and are quite busy. Never be afraid to follow up or call to set a time.
I use this meeting to start the year off with open communication. It is informative, but it is equally important to enforce the message that you want to work with them and make their life easy so they can focus on the job of teaching.
Prepare Teachers and School Nurses to Care for your Child
For the nurses, we review all medication doses, snack timings, blood sugar checks and emergency protocols among other things.
It is also important to note that my son is in the 3rd grade. If you have a high school student, your child will play a bigger role in their own care. However, it is still good to request a meeting before school starts – particularly if diagnosis is new, or you are at a new school.
When meeting with the teacher, I suggest that a school nurse also join. At that time I review the basics of what Type 1 Diabetes is, and how we treat it.
Having the nurse there also helps open the dialogue for how they may manage certain situations with the teacher. Based on your experience, you may have ideas or suggestions for them, so do not be afraid to share your thoughts.
Important Topics to Cover with your School Nurse and Teachers
I typically focus on the following topics with the teacher and nurse:
- What is diabetes, and the difference between Type 1 and Type 2?
- Hypo- and hyperglycemia. What is the difference, signs and why are they important?
- DKA (ketoacidosis). It is likely that a DKA would be managed at home on a sick day, but I still explain what this means as it is critical, and could happen at school.
- How the teacher can help – the expectations and support your child needs to function as a normal child in the classroom.
- Diabetic emergencies.
- Other topics. For example, depending on the age of the child, you may want to discuss discipline, what to do during tests, field trips or other things.
- Thank them. Thank them all for their time and encourage them to reach out to you if they have any questions.
- Note any action items. Do they need any more information or supplies from you? Do you need more information from them?
Resources for Managing Diabetes at School
I typically use a template for this discussion. For example, this Guideline for Schools from Australia is a good place to start.
I do suggest you read everything word for word. I use various guidelines as an outline and I take the best of their information that is relevant for me here in the Middle East, and include things specific to my son and his care.
Other guidelines to consider can be found at Diabetes UK or at this American site, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
There is a lot of information out there, and it can be overwhelming – both for you and for the school staff. I use this information as a foundation and edit it when it comes to specifics for my son and his treatment.
Every diabetic is different. For example, the way one child reacts to, or feels, a low blood sugar is not the same as another. Be sure to highlight information specific to your diabetic.
It is also important to note that Type 1 Diabetes school guidelines often include legal information specific to a country. It may not always be relevant for you, so update it to be in alignment with your location.
More to Come About Diabetes at School