Adapting Your Child’s Diabetes Management for a New School Year
With a new school year just around the corner, many parents are strategizing for their children to receive the medical care they need in their new classroom environments. The goal for families of children with diabetes is for their kids to have access to appropriate diabetes management while having the same school experience as children without diabetes. Here are some aspects of care at school that parents of children with diabetes should consider in order to meet that goal:
- Is there a nurse at school? If not, who can take responsibility for helping to assist with the day-to-day management of diabetes? There should be a medical plan in place and parents should discuss that with the school administration.
- If your child is involved with after-school activities or field trips, will there be care available at those places?
- What supplies does your child need at school? Think about the amount of supplies they will need, whether they will be centrally located for the child, or whether they will be carrying their own testing equipment to treat hypoglycemia.
- If your child is involved with after school sports, make sure the school administration is aware of their condition. Parents should also talk to the child’s coaches so they can assist if needed.
- Make sure your child always has something on them to fix a low—and coaches, teachers, and other staff should be aware so they can help if necessary.
- Some school systems, like New York City public schools, have carb count menus for school meals up online. If your child is buying their lunch at school, check the menu ahead of time and review it with your child. Kids dose insulin according to carb counts, so it’s very important to plan for that. If your school doesn’t have a menu with a carb count, work with the school cafeteria and school administration to come up with carb counts for the menu.
- Your child’s schedule will change when they go back to school, sometimes going from a schedule where they are more active during the day to being more sedentary during the day and active in the evening. If you notice your child’s blood sugar levels are out of range, be in touch with your diabetes care team so they can adjust insulin doses to the new school schedule.
You should go to your child’s diabetes care team with any questions. Other great resources for Safe at School information can be found at the American Diabetes Association, JDRF, and Children with Diabetes websites.
Christine Lally, RN, CDE, is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. She provides education and support to patients, families, and caregivers, and helps them fit diabetes management into their lives in a healthful way.