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Old 08-08-2011, 08:39 AM   #1
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How to talk to teacher

My DD started K-5 last week and I think we hit it off well with the teacher and her assistant. DD seems to be really enjoying school- except for one thing.

My DD is extremely sensitive to Red Dye #40- she will have horrific tummy pain if she consumes it, diarrhea, nausea, etc.

I spoke to the teacher about it privately and she seemed very understanding- I also told her that I would bring in a big container of Yummy Earth lollipops (organic pops colored with fruit/veggie goodness instead of artificial dyes) and some gummies that wouldn't make DD sick, since she told me she uses gummies and pops as treats in her class occasionally. I wanted her to be aware of why my DD would be bringing her lunch every day, why she couldn't really eat anything out of the cafeteria (the cafeteria director checked for me and the food is trash, even the darn chocolate milk has red dye #40 in it) and I have a friend whose DS had this teacher last year and said she gave them treats often, so I wanted to ensure that DD wouldn't be "paying" for any treats after she enjoyed them.

I bought the gummies and pops hoping to make the teacher feel more at ease about my DD's needs- didn't want her to feel defensive about what she gave the kids, didn't want her to have to worry about giving DD something that might make her sick... and yes, I bought enough pops and gummies for her to share with the whole class this year. I know they're significantly underfunded, so I was hoping it would ease her wallet a bit, too.

Well, my girl has come home crying the past two days. She said that she hates eating at school, because the teachers are making a lot of comments about what DD can and cannot eat. The teacher gave the kids pretzels and didn't give DD any because she didn't know if she could have them or not. I pack DD's lunch, so there isn't any reason why her lunch should be up for discussion. I pack DD's snack, so there isn't any reason why her snack should be discussed. My daughter gets sick from a DYE- and I explained that it would be on a label, if there was ever a need to check. Pretzels don't have dyes in them, typically, but couldn't she have checked before she alienated my DD on the second day or school!?

This weekend, we went to the beach with the kids and even when we gave DD water, she asked me if there was Red Dye #40 in it. Her not having it is NOT a new thing. She's hyper-aware of it now, because apparently her teacher is talking about it and making a big deal about it at school, which leaves me in a quandry about how to handle this.

What would you do, Mamas?

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Last edited by dustileigh; 08-08-2011 at 08:41 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:44 AM   #2
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Re: How to talk to teacher

I'd be very proud that your daughter is that smart to understand.

I'd get a note from her doctor highlighting it. We find some people are wonderful and really sensitive to it and others just don't care. We limit red dye as too many parents have told me horror story's with behavior, etc. We also do a no sweets/no juice diet and our new preschool was great about really asking and being concerned - we'll see how it plays out. I personally don't like using food as a reward - its sets kids up to fail in too many ways from what you are going through to they expect it. Its good intentions gone bad. The teachers should not be talking about it with an older child/aware and I'd just mention to to them nicely and say, is there anything else I can do to make it easier as I'm sure you have lots of kids on different diets/issues and its hard to keep track of.
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:55 AM   #3
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Re: How to talk to teacher

I would be happy that the teacher is that concerned about your daughter to not just make an assumption she can eat it and then her getting sick. Plus the teacher is probably using that time to explain to the other children why she is not eating the same thing as them or getting a different option then the rest of the class. Plus she might just be very unsure of what contains red dye. I never knew choc. milk did truthfully. I would make a list of items you know your daughter can have and bring in snacks that you know she can eat so if the teacher is unsure she knows she can give her those. Does the class get all the same snack or does everyone bring their own?
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:00 AM   #4
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Re: How to talk to teacher

I had no idea chocolate milk had red dye in it... Wow. I'm also impressed your daughter is so aware! I'm sorry the teacher is making her feel bad... Does she always give out snack?? at the school I work at kindergartener's bring their own snack and the only time the teacher dishes something out is to a kid who didn't bring anything... Could you tell your daughter teacher is looking out for her?
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:11 AM   #5
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Re: How to talk to teacher

DD is going to a magnet school- a fantastic magnet program... but 90% of the school gets free or reduced lunch, free breakfast, and a lot of the kids don't bring in snacks- so the teacher just typically keeps a snack stash in her classroom.

((How do you explain to your child that she is very lucky that her mom packs her a fantastic lunch every day and that she isn't being left out...same with breakfast... same with snack... *sigh*))

I really do appreciate the teacher being so thorough and conscious of DD's needs. I'm also proud of DD for being aware of what is good for her and what isn't- but I don't want her to feel left out, defensive, or anything like that.

Can you tell this is my first babe going to school?!

I guess I should just not say anything and wait until DD and her teacher get comfortable enough with each other that DD not eating school food and such just becomes routine?
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:40 AM   #6
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Re: How to talk to teacher

I would be very grateful the teacher was that aware that your daughter has a special diet. She may not have had the bag in front of her (for instance, some snack sizes of foods have the ingredients listed on the outer bag, but not on each individual bag). I am sorry your daughter felt left out because her teacher didn't give her the snack. But, if she didn't know if it was okay for your LO to have it, then I would be happy that she erred on the side of caution.

I would give it a week or two for everyone to settle in to the new school year. Then, perhaps approach the teacher and find out whether there are certain snacks that are often served and if so, you can either let her know what is safe or send in an alternate.
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:51 AM   #7
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Re: How to talk to teacher

As both a teacher and a mom of a child with food allergies, I would contact the teacher. I am guessing from your post that
a) the teacher is very concerned that she be careful not to give your DD anything that might make her sick; but
b) mentioning it in front of DD and the whole class is making DD uncomfortable.

Now, perhaps your DD is feeling very shy and singled out, or perhaps the teacher is going overboard. Either way, make teacher aware of it. If she's planning on serving a snack, a little advanced planning to check the ingredients before class, and have a substitute available if necessary might solve the problem. Then, there's no need to mention it in front of the others - just quietly hand DD the substitute snack. If she or another child questions, a simple, matter of fact, "Oh, these have something in them that will make DD's tummy hurt" (in the same tone as, "Hmm - nice weather we're having") and drop it should suffice.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:21 AM   #8
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Re: How to talk to teacher

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sha-nanagins View Post
As both a teacher and a mom of a child with food allergies, I would contact the teacher. I am guessing from your post that
a) the teacher is very concerned that she be careful not to give your DD anything that might make her sick; but
b) mentioning it in front of DD and the whole class is making DD uncomfortable.

Now, perhaps your DD is feeling very shy and singled out, or perhaps the teacher is going overboard. Either way, make teacher aware of it. If she's planning on serving a snack, a little advanced planning to check the ingredients before class, and have a substitute available if necessary might solve the problem. Then, there's no need to mention it in front of the others - just quietly hand DD the substitute snack. If she or another child questions, a simple, matter of fact, "Oh, these have something in them that will make DD's tummy hurt" (in the same tone as, "Hmm - nice weather we're having") and drop it should suffice.
I agree. As a teacher, I'd be scared to give her something that would cause her to get sick, as chocolate milk has this in it, as you said, which I didn't know. So she's being overly careful. Maybe you can call her and talk to her about your concerns, or write a letter. I'm thinking it's just new to her and the teacher isn't quite sure how to approach it.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:39 AM   #9
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Re: How to talk to teacher

I had this happen last year with my ds2. His teacher was very worried she would give him something he can't have and a couple of times ds came home crying that "the whole lunchroom was talking about his lunch." Well he had eaten almost everything I had packed for the day at breakfast and by lunch only had some veggies left so the teacher and lunch lady were in a panic on what to feed him. They ended up calling my mom who works at the school and she gave him her turkey sandwich.

I ended up talking to the teacher almost daily for a few weeks (by phone), then it slowed down to a couple of times a month and by the end of the year it was only very rarely. It took a few weeks for her to learn what he could have and how to read labels. I am still surprised how many adults don't know how to read labels for ingredients. I think she is just overly concerned and doesn't want to mess up. Talk to her as often as you need to and let her know how your dd feels when her food is discussed like it has been. HTH I know exactly how you feel!
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:40 PM   #10
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Re: How to talk to teacher

The teacher sent a letter home with the kids today that every week, two parents would get letters and will asked to send in enough snacks for the whole class, whatever is written down on the letter- enough to last for 2 to 3 days.

What IS it with this school and FOOD?!

Just let me pack my child's food and let the other parents attend to the needs of their children. Why in the world do parents need to alternate snacks? I will feed my kid. You feed your kid.

*sigh*
okay, mini rant over.

You ladies gave fantastic advice, but now I have no idea what to say to the teacher after this letter came home this afternoon.
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