It is recommended that families with food allergic children attending school address accommodating their child with the school staff. Be sure that your IHCP and 504 plan also address classroom parties. This way, school staff who care for your child, know what is to be expected. Planning ahead with school staff and opening up communications will allow for a party that runs smoothly and is safe and inclusive.
Classroom parent helpers are an important part of the school environment. They volunteer their time to help teachers. They also help plan the classroom parties. If you are a classroom parent, it's important to ask the teacher what is appropriate to serve at the party or if the class will have a food-free party. However, because of medical privacy, the school staff must guide you, the room parent, with what can be offered at these parties so that it is not only safe, but following inclusive practices.
Food-free parties are becoming more common and an acceptable practice in schools across the district. Not only is it a preferred inclusive practice for the students with food allergies, it is an appropriate practice for students who are obese or who have diabetes, that may not be able to participate because of the food. Additionally, it follows the district's wellness initiatives. It is possible to have a food-free party that the children will enjoy.
Food-Free Classroom Party Ideas
- Play bingo for prizes. Instead of BINGO, use "SNOWY" or "SCARF" for a winter theme and "LOVES" or "HEART" for a Valentine's Day theme. Personalize the cards at online Bingo card generators like Print-Bingo.com. Just print them out, laminate them and have the students use dry-erase markers. Save them for next year, they are reusable!
- Prizes can be purchased from 5 Below or similar discount store.
- Play bowling with a plastic or foam bowling set.
- Themed crafts - be sure that craft items do not contain allergens.
- Goodie bags filled with food-free items like pencils, erasers, glow sticks etc.
- Homework pass - Especially great for older kids as a prize or giveaway. Make a homework pass certificate for each student to take home or use it as a bingo prize!
- Play fun games like Pictionary or I Spy