School field trips can be a valuable part of the learning experience. It gives students a chance for hands-on learning outside of the classroom.
If your child has food allergies, partner with their school to plan for successful field trips.
Below are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for upcoming field trips. As you read the tips, consider that your situation may vary based on the age of your child, whether or not they can self-carry their medicine, and the school’s policies for field trips.
Ask about the field trip calendar in advance. Many schools book field trips well in advance and know dates at the beginning of the school year. Having the schedule ahead of time will allow you to start planning well in advance for field trip days.
Submit a school care plan. At the beginning of the school year, you should have created a school care plan and given it to the school. The forms included in the plan will usually cover field trips. If you haven’t submitted a school care plan to the school, be sure to do it as soon as possible.
Volunteer as a chaperone. If you can, ask if you or another guardian can volunteer to serve as a chaperone. You can enjoy the experience with your child and their class. It may help you and your child feel more comfortable, especially if your child is younger and not ready to self-manage their food allergy yet.
Some school districts may require background checks and fingerprinting for school volunteers. Contact the school ahead of time so you can be approved as a chaperone well before any field trips you plan to attend.
Make sure your child’s epinephrine (and quick-relief inhaler if they also have asthma) goes with them on the trip. Make sure your child’s teacher and chaperones know the medicine needs to be with your child or the adult assigned to their group and not on the bus or other storage location. Include a copy of your child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan and their school care plan forms with their medicine.
If your child can self-carry, consider having them carry a small backpack, fanny pack, or sports belt.
Don’t forget to check the weather and make a plan to protect your child’s epinephrine. If the epinephrine is exposed to temperatures that are too hot or too cold, it may not be as effective. If your child will be outside all day, insulate the epinephrine device.
Plan for lunch and snacks before the day of the field trip. Find out if the class will be eating lunch that day and what the options will be. Lunch locations for field trips can vary greatly. They may eat on the bus, at a museum food court, at a picnic site, or even at a restaurant.
The simplest solution may be to send a packed lunch and snacks with your child. If they will be eating a lunch packed by the school, talk with the dietary manager to find out what it will include.
If the class will be eating at a restaurant, call the restaurant in advance to make sure your child can bring their own lunch inside or work with them to find out if they can prepare a safe dish for your child.
If your child will eat at the field trip site or at a destination along the way, do research on lunch options. Try to find out ahead of time what they can eat at their lunch destination.
Look at the field trip as a great chance to teach your child self-management skills appropriate for their age. On field trips, your child gets to have many learning experiences. One of those experiences is gaining knowledge on how to self-manage their food allergy in different situations.
Even if you go along, you can still give your child the opportunity to practice skills like carrying their own medicine, ordering safe foods, and advocating for themself. These experiences build confidence they can carry with them as they grow.