School can be terrifying for a parent of a celiac child. I know, because I am one! We chose a co-op based preschool which means not only the teachers but the parents of 32 children are asked to understand our gluten-free lifestyle. See below for a handout I made for parents. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like a digital copy as a template for your needs. It may even be handy, as a starting point, for family members grappling with preparing food for a holiday.
One step at a time; onward and upward!
Hi, my name is Kaya. I have celiac disease which means my body has a severe auto-immune response to anything that contains gluten. When I am exposed to gluten, my tummy gets the crummies and my skin isn’t happy. Long term, it puts me at risk for intestinal cancers and other auto immune disorders. My entire home is gluten free, including my family members, shampoos and lotions. Gluten is a big part of my world now that I am in nursery school. It’s best to be cautious so please redirect my attention when the play dough is out (I have gluten free (GF) playdough) or the cooking station has flour (I love the art table!) or we are playing with cosmetics (nail polish, creams). I’ll have Aileen and Teacher Jen watching out for me. Also if each day the person (1) preparing snack, (2) at the cooking table, and (3) at my snack table could think twice about keeping me safe, my belly and I would be so grateful!
I cannot eat GLUTEN: WHEAT, RYE, BARLEY or their derivatives which include malts, soy sauce, bulgur, kamut, spelt, couscous, sauces; any sort of crouton, bread, cracker, flour, cake, pretzels, are all off limits; unless, of course, the package says “Gluten-Free” on it (phew!)!
I need to avoid cross-contamination. If you would like to prepare something from your kitchen with love for me: please wipe down all surfaces, cutting boards, cutlery, bowls with a fresh sponge and towel so that they are free from crumbs and remnant flours. If you are using an old cutting board, maybe lay a piece of wax paper on top before cutting. And please lay a piece of aluminum foil in your toaster oven or barbecue. Unfortunately, even a dusting of gluten can make me sick. I have my own toaster and bread at school if you need it.
You absolutely do not need to cater to my needs. Just grab a snack from my box above the refrigerator if you don’t know or didn’t have time to check the label or give your cutting board an extra rinse. Heaven knows, being a parent is consuming enough, so again I thank you!
Please be tender with me when talking about gluten. I need to be reminded of all the delicious foods that I CAN eat. Not the things “I CAN’T.” So maybe say something like, “I am going to get you something delicious from your special box of food”, instead of “you can’t have this…” Or if the topic comes up with your child you can say that “there are lots of delicious options for crackers and breads that Kaya CAN have.”
I CAN eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, peanuts, butters, cheese, yogurt, meats, rice, quinoa, most chips, beans, corn, corn starch, potato, tapioca, buckwheat, millet – and anything labeled GF. If you have any questions, please ask my parents! If I am accidentally exposed to gluten, please let my mom know (Molly, 530-307-0852). I appreciate your care-filled approach to preparing my snack & for taking the extra time to learn about celiac and my GF lifestyle. Please help keep me on a healthy path. Thank you. I love preschool!