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Keeping Celiac Kids Gluten-Free at School

Posted By Heather On September 4, 2013 @ 2:22 pm In Parenting | 19 Comments


Added September 4, 2013
school bus [3]

Well, now that Labor Day is past, I think kids everywhere are back at school now. We actually started school last month, and this year I thought it was time for a newly updated letter to give to my kids’ teachers. Now that my kids are getting older and more independent, I feel more confident that they can read the ingredients on labels and make decisions about what is safe for them to eat. So, with that in mind, I updated the letter to give my kids more responsibility in making sure they are gluten free at school. But, even though I know my kids can make good food decisions, I wanted to make sure the teacher knew about their dietary restrictions and would be supportive about it in the classroom.

Due to an email I recently received from a reader, I also dug out an old letter I created to send to other parents. It tells parents about my children’s needs to be gluten-free, along with a request to be notified about any birthday celebrations in advance. The letter also includes a small list of gluten-free snack ideas. You may want to use this letter for preschool and kindergarten classes that share or rotate snack responsibilities. It also works great for sports teams, clubs, church groups, scouts, etc.

These are all letters I have created and shared on Google Docs so that you can copy text or save as another document and make your own revisions to fit your own needs. Just click on the links to get started.

Letter to teacher [4] — for more independent kids.

Letter to send to other parents [5] — about snacks for preschool classes, teams, clubs, etc.

Letter to teacher and school officials [6] — for younger kids.

Find even more ideas at Gluten Free in School [7]: Snacks, Lunchbox ideas, Care Packages, Classroom Party Foods, Crafts, etc.


Updated September 7, 2011

My kids are back in school this year. Every year, I write letters to my kids’ teachers to introduce my kids and let the teachers know about their food restrictions. I give the letters to the teachers at the school open house, the week before school actually begins. I’ve revised some things with my letters this year:

  • First, I added the principal to the distribution. In the past, I’ve only given a copy to the teachers and school health nurse.
  • Second, I added field trips to the list of activities to be concerned about.
  • And finally, I enclosed a copy of my son’s individual health plan. I didn’t think that was necessary to do, since it was created with the school nurse and on file at the school. But, I found out last year, that the teacher and principal didn’t know it even existed. So, I’m hoping that my letters this year close a few gaps in the communication chain.

I also wrote a letter directly to the school nurse and principal that expressed concern about how the “specials” teachers would be informed and made aware of the food restrictions. Occasionally, the kids will be offered rewards in the form of candy, popsicles, popcorn, etc. from other teachers (art, music, PE, etc.). We never had a problem with it last year, but our school has quite a few new teachers this year. And, I want to limit (as much as possible) the chance of my kids getting sick from gluten. You may want to put this into the letter to your teachers, instead of writing a separate letter.

This year, I’ve put the letter into a document that you can open and review. Just click on the letter image below. I know your family has different kids, teachers, and school systems that will require you to personalize your own letter. I hope that by sharing my letter with you, I have given you some ideas of what to write in your own letters. And, if you think of something that you feel I should add to mine, please share your thoughts in the comments.



Original post September 8, 2009


It’s Back to School Week at Celiac Family. My son starts Kindergarten today! We’re all pretty excited about it. But, being the mother that I am, I’m a little nervous, too. He’s been gluten free for more than four years, and is very good about making sure foods are gluten-free before eating them. But, this is the first time I won’t be walking him into the classroom. When he was in preschool, I could see what activities were planned for the day, check the snacks in the classroom, and the teachers could ask me any questions about craft products they were using. I know it’s time to let go of some of the control, but it’s hard to let go when it’s about his health.

Not knowing the Kindergarten teacher or the school, I didn’t know what the typical day would be like or what kind of student activities might be an issue for us. So, I wrote a letter to the teacher to express my concerns. I also enclosed with the letter some more detailed information about Celiac Disease. (It never hurts to raise awareness about Celiac Disease, right?) We found out who my son’s teacher would be a day before Open House, so I hand delivered the letter to the teacher. We got to speak briefly about it, but she was busy meeting the other new students and parents. Even if you get a chance to speak to your child’s teacher at length, I think it’s a good idea to put your concerns in writing. That way there’s less chance of miscommunication. Plus, it gives the teacher something to refer to later. I also gave a copy of the letter to the school nurse.

I’ve copied my letter below for you to use for inspiration. When I sat down to write the letter, I did a quick search online to find some sample letters. I knew there were some out there, but couldn’t find one at the time. After I took the time to write the letter, I did find some other great resources to help prepare yourself and your child for the new school year.

  • “GF Letter for School” at Gluten-Free is Life [9]
  • Form letters to schools/child care providers at Dallas R.O.C.K. [10]
  • “Back-to-school checklist for celiac families” at The Savvy Celiac [11]
  • “Back to school tips for gluten-free and food allergy kids” at Sure Foods Living [12]
  • “Navigating the School System” at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness [13] – This addresses the issue of getting the school to accommodate the gluten-free diet. Be sure to scroll down the page for information about a 504 Plan, a letter to educators and a physician’s letter.


September 3, 2009

To: Teacher
CC: School Nurse

Re: Student’s name

Our son is so excited to start Kindergarten in your class at WS Elementary. We have completed all the required forms and paperwork.  You will notice in the health forms, that he has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley (malt), rye and sometimes oats. Our son is actually very healthy, but he must manage Celiac Disease with a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. It is very important to his health that he remains gluten free.

Since he has not yet started Kindergarten, we are not familiar with the procedures for activities and snack time in your class.  So, I am providing this information to you in order for our son to avoid any possible contact with gluten.

We will provide our son with a gluten-free snack everyday. He is aware of his condition, and has been instructed not to trade snacks or eat any other food without first confirming with an adult that it is gluten-free.  He should also avoid any contact with other classmates’ snacks, or crumbs of snacks, that contain gluten.

In addition to snacks, our son should also avoid contact with craft products that contain gluten.  Of most concern to me is play dough, pasta, hay/straw, fingerpaints and paper maché, since they are products that almost always contain wheat and/or are likely to get under his fingernails.  Other products that may contain wheat are glue, paint, and ink. To be clear, our son does not get a reaction just from touching gluten, however if it gets on his hands and fingers it could be transferred to his mouth. I would be happy to review the ingredients of any craft products in the classroom to determine if they do contain gluten. If they do, I will be happy to provide a suitable substitution.

If our son does accidentally come into contact with gluten at school, I ask that you immediately have him wash his hands thoroughly. He does not have an allergic response, such as anaphylaxis, so no medicine nor medical attention is required. I would simply request that you make me aware of the contact with the gluten (through a note sent home with him and/or a phone call/email) so that I can monitor his health. And, we can determine how to avoid it in the future.

If you allow students to bring in birthday treats to share, I ask that we be made aware of it a day or two in advance. Cupcakes and cookies, unless made with special alternative flours, are not gluten-free. If notified in advance of what will be brought in, our son can bring a gluten-free alternative in order to celebrate with the other students. If it works for you, I can also provide you with a box of safe, gluten-free treats to store for our son in cases of surprise treat occasions.

For your information, I have enclosed documents that provide detailed information about Celiac Disease. Please feel free to call or email me anytime with any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

[Be sure to provide your name and contact information here.]

“What Is Celiac Disease?” (I copied several pages from Danna Korn’s “Kids with Celiac Disease [14]“)
Unsafe Gluten-Free List [15]
Safe Gluten-Free List [16]
Quick list of gluten-free snacks [17]

Article printed from celiacfamily.com: http://celiacfamily.com

URL to article: http://celiacfamily.com/keeping-celiac-kids-gluten-free-at-school/

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[3] Image: http://celiacfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/school-bus.jpg

[4] Letter to teacher: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zQL02YRdIo7QgvLiaxXszKXSVVdPR9U_h9kuCGoCxBA/edit?usp=sharing

[5] Letter to send to other parents: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1frSLBZT8oDB5-wIFaHcx46O7ZnjsTaPvMxzjk9-AcbU/edit?usp=sharing

[6] Letter to teacher and school officials: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cPlOpc_lhQt22KluFBGN4UYVrMn1EayDhbTT_CqB_XA/edit?usp=sharing

[7] Gluten Free in School: http://celiacfamily.com/gluten-free-in-school/

[8] Image: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1cPlOpc_lhQt22KluFBGN4UYVrMn1EayDhbTT_CqB_XA

[9] Gluten-Free is Life: http://glutenfreeislife.wordpress.com/gluten-free-letters-for-school/

[10] Dallas R.O.C.K.: http://www.dallasrock.org/pdf/SchoolGFList.pdf

[11] The Savvy Celiac: http://thesavvyceliac.com/2009/08/20/back-to-school-checklist-for-celiac-families/

[12] Sure Foods Living: http://surefoodsliving.com/2009/07/28/back-to-school-tips-for-gluten-free-or-food-allergy-kids/

[13] National Foundation for Celiac Awareness: http://www.celiaccentral.org/Resources/Support-for-Patients/Celiac-Disease-in-Kids-Youth/Navigating-The-School-System/209/

[14] Kids with Celiac Disease: http://astore.amazon.com/celifami-20/detail/1890627216

[15] Unsafe Gluten-Free List: http://www.celiac.com/articles/182/1/Unsafe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Unsafe-Ingredients/Page1.html

[16] Safe Gluten-Free List: http://www.celiac.com/articles/181/1/Safe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Safe-Ingredients/Page1.html

[17] Quick list of gluten-free snacks: http://celiacfamily.com/gluten-free-school-snacks/

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