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Learning how to manage their diabetes at school can be a big challenge for children. It may also bring changes to their school day as they learn to find time to care for their illness. But it can also be an opportunity for them to start taking more responsibility for their own health.
Part of that means learning how to eat the right foods at the right times and get lots of exercise. It can also mean teaching classmates what diabetes is and what the shots and blood sugar meters are for.
You can help your child by working with the doctor or diabetes educator to create a diabetes care plan for school. And you can keep your child's teachers, coaches, and other school staff informed about how to give diabetes care and manage blood sugar emergencies. A care plan will help you share this information with school staff.
A diabetes care plan for school is a document that includes information the school staff needs to know to help keep your child safe. The goal of the plan is to meet your child's daily needs and prepare for any problems.
The plan includes information on:
It's a good idea to meet with the school staff at the start of each school year to discuss the care plan.
Along with the plan, give the school staff the right supplies to care for your child. These include:
For older children who take insulin to school, check with the school. It may have rules about students carrying their own medicines, needles, and blood sugar meters. Many schools require students to get special permission or to keep their supplies at the school.
If your child takes insulin, make sure that the diabetes plan has information about snacks. Teachers and coaches need to know that snacks keep your child's blood sugar at the right level. Tell them that they shouldn't prevent your child from having snacks. And tell them when your child usually needs snacks—for example, before, during, or after exercise.
Your child can eat regular school lunches. Help your child learn to make the best food choices.
Ask the school to let you know ahead of time if meals will be delayed because of special school activities, such as parties or trips. Then you can adjust your child's insulin or snack schedule to prevent a low blood sugar episode.
Have your child carry a quick-acting source of carbohydrate to eat if your child's blood sugar gets too low. These include:
It's a good idea to ask your child's teacher to keep snacks like these close by.
Children with diabetes can take part in sports just like children without diabetes. Each child will react differently during physical activity. Children who use insulin are at risk for low blood sugar during and after exercise.
Good planning means checking blood sugar before, during, and after exercise. Keep a record of how exercise affects your child's blood sugar level. Using your records, you can learn to predict how your child will react to being active.
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & David C.W. Lau MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
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