This is another one of those tips that will involve spending your money. In a nutshell: keep spare treats for kids with allergies. Common allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and gluten or wheat.
Keeping spare treats it is helpful when parents bring in birthday treats or refreshments for classroom parties. Sometimes parents will arrange this with you in advance, sometimes they won’t. Often, parents will ask about avoiding allergens for a treat they plan to bring—but if you have several students with varied allergies, a parent may find it very difficult to avoid all those troublesome ingredients. In many cases, parents don’t realize how complicated this can be unless their own children have allergies.
Keeping alternate treats helps you avoid complications and disappointments. Other teachers and the nurse sometimes ask me if the allergic child’s parents have sent an alternate treats. I just take care of it myself so it doesn’t become another admin responsibility. Plus, if you have treats always available, you can head off disappointments and even tears during what should be a moment of celebration.
Here are a few ideas for treats that avoid various allergens: Skittles, Rice Krispie Treats, Little Debbie Cakes (those that avoid tree nuts or peanuts), lollipops, and hard candies. You can check ingredients lists easily—the potential allergens are listed at the bottom of the nutrition information section. I always stay on the safe side and don’t buy treats processed at a plant that works with peanuts or tree nuts for students who are allergic to those foods. Often, I have a nice fresh piece of fruit available, but I can’t always guarantee that. (It just depends what goodies are in my lunch that day!)
If I’m ever out of stock and a treat shows up that I know a child can’t eat, I just arrange for someone to cover my class while I take the child to the teachers’ lounge to pick an alternate treat out of a vending machine.
This is just another example of how being a teacher can become expensive. However, I think you will be glad to have these spare treats on hand. Kids with allergies have problems enough, and they will really appreciate when you go the extra mile for them.