Bookbags, folders, calculators, and summer reading assignments: For kids with diabetes and their parents, these typical back-to-school preparations are just the beginning. By now you’ve probably already met with your child’s diabetes care provider and school personnel. But there are other important steps you can take to make sure your child stays safe at school:
1. Make sure you have a current Diabetes Medical Management Plan (DMMP)
Work with your diabetes care provider to create this plan that spells out your child’s school diabetes care regimen, if you haven’t already. “What are the child’s typical symptoms of hypoglycemia? What snacks does he or she use to treat it? Can the child give his or her own injections?” Download a sample plan. Meet with the school nurse or health care aide to to review the DMMP and understand how it will be implemented.
2. Write up a 504 Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP)
These plans take the information in the DMMP and explain the school’s specific responsibilities. They are developed to protect your child’s rights under relevant federal laws. One thing the plan addresses is who else should be trained to provide diabetes care tasks for your child when the school nurse is not available. Younger or newly diagnosed children will generally need more help. Your list should include the school bus driver, the teacher, anyone responsible at after-school activities or field trips. Find more about 504 plans and download a sample plan and learn more about IEPs.
3. Don’t forget the lows
Be sure to have a “low box” containing snacks and glucagon with your child, in the classroom, and in the nurse’s office, based on what you’ve outlined in your care plan. Provide your child with sources of quick-acting glucose, like tabs or juice or whatever he or she uses to treat low blood sugar.
4. Build up your child’s confidence
Giving kids a little more independence at home—like teaching them to check their own blood glucose, if they’re ready for it—will give them the confidence that they can take care of themselves when you’re not with them, too.
5. Listen—and reassure
The start of school is an emotional time for everyone. Reassure your child that you’ve met with the school and they are safe.