My two children have celiac disease (cannot have gluten). My son is just 5 and when we found out a year ago, he was old enough to understand what he could and could not eat (he is very serious about his diet) and it was never an issue. I bought gluten free play dough for the environment for the year and he has his own snacks to eat if he needs (he NEVER eats - a whole other thread) and that was it. I am thinking of starting my daughter in his school in January. She is 2 years 3 months and is very different from my son. She loves to snack and share food, etc. I asked the teacher today how we would handle the snack situation since the food is left out for the children to eat as they need. She shrugged and said she didn't have a solution. She said she couldn't watch that all the time. Do I really need to keep her home over this issue? She is very sensitive and I cannot have her in a situation where she could be sickened. Does anyone have any ideas of how to solve this in a Montessori environment? She would be placed with the primary (2 1/2 to 6 year olds). I just can't buy the snacks for all the children for the whole year and she just doesn't have a handle yet on what is ok to eat and what is not. I think she would love to be there with her brother but I can wait if I need to. What would you do?
2 1/2 is still very young - especially with respect to impulse control.
In our class, there is a ban on peanut products (no PBJ or any food that has peanuts) to accommodate a student. While a bit frustrating, that is easier to accommodate - always alternatives like almond butter and sunflower nut butter.
Have you considered waiting until next Fall and use the interim time to help your daughter learn about the right and wrong foods. Especially, where it's a safety issue and she's < 3, I'd opt on the conservative side.
Not sure if you're planning on full days, but, this would also include lunch time when it would be difficult for the teacher to monitor and prevent sharing.
Our school became a nut-free school, and now that I think about it, it was probably because of the free-access to snacks. they were fairly willing to deal with our son's allergies (milk, soy, nuts, eggs, corn, nuts) by putting out his snack for him on days he couldn't eat the regular snack.
We had other issues about the Montessori environment and their inability/unwillingness to provide sufficient supervision and attention/accommodation, but they were typically pretty good about his allergies.
Thanks so much for the replies! This classroom/school is also strictly nut free and I am not sure what I was expecting anyone to do for them - I just didn't expect to be dismissed. I am absolutely in love with this school and the teachers and when something doesn't go right, it is a harsh reminder to me that they are just people. If she knew what she could eat/not eat, the separate snack idea would be great, but she just isn't there yet. I think staying home is the best bet for right now. It makes me so bitter and angry about this condition - that she would happily start school but for a bowl of pretzels is maddening.
My dd has multiple food allergies. She has pretty much to her knowledge always had these allergies. At that age (2) I could trust her 100% not to eat the food that is out for other people. She knew her snack was always kept separate. She had to ask for it when she wanted it. There was no issue of sometimes she could have the class snack and sometimes she couldn't. Instead the rule was that she never could have it and she had to have her own. In the toddler room, they did some food prep and she was only allowed to participate with fruit and veges.
I was never concerned about her eating something from the class snack. And trust me, this kid loves food.
So really, I think you would do well to stress with her that she should never eat something that she is not expressly told is ok. She should always ask. I have even taught my dd not to rely on what anyone other than her parents or teachers tell her in case a well meaning adult tells her the wrong thing. However, now she is getting older and mom and dad eventually will not always be there, so it is an ever evolving process.
My concern for her was more in regards to cross contamination - if she ate at a table after or with another child. But they have plans in place for that too.