Back to School Tips for Diabetes Management: Teacher Edition

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This month the Joslin Blog is highlighting stories about heading back to school with diabetes. This story was originally posted on Aug. 21, 2013.


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With the first day of school quickly approaching, preparation for the new school year is already underway. For parents of children with diabetes, this preparation includes opening a line of communication with their child’s teacher to ensure that he or she understands basic diabetes management for their student.

Jennifer Griffin, M.S., C.C.L.S. and a Child Life Specialist at Joslin, and Debbie Butler, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., C.D.E. and Associate Director of the Pediatric Programs at Joslin, have provided some useful tips for parents, teachers and children to ensure that the transition back to school goes smoothly for all involved.

What parents of children with diabetes should say to teachers:

Both Griffin and Butler advocate for parents arranging a time to speak with their child’s teacher before school starts. This allows the teacher to gain a general understanding about diabetes and what is involved in their student’s diabetes management plan.

“Parents usually explain the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugars) and when the child should go to the nurse’s office,” Griffin and Butler agreed.  “Some children are allowed to check their blood sugar, administer insulin in the classroom, or treat hypoglycemia in the classroom. If this is the case, then this should be explained to the teacher as well.”

What children with diabetes should say to teachers:

While Griffin and Butler encourage parents to cover most of the communication and preparation with the teacher, they do believe that children should feel comfortable speaking with their teacher when they are not feeling well and when they need to check their blood sugar.

What questions teachers should ask parents of children with diabetes:

It is also important for teachers to communicate with the parents as well.

“Teachers should communicate with the parents and ask the child’s parent(s) what precautions they should take,” explained Griffin and Butler.  “Every child with diabetes is different.  Also some children can be very private about their diabetes so the teacher may want to discuss this with the parents as well, and how diabetes should be handled in the classroom.”

Griffin and Butler stress that open and ongoing communication among parents, children and teachers is the most important aspect of diabetes management at school.

“Communication is critical between the parents, the child and the teacher throughout the school year,” they commented. “We suggest that parent(s) check in with their child occasionally throughout the year to see how things are going at school and if there is anything that the teacher should know about.”


3 Responses to Back to School Tips for Diabetes Management: Teacher Edition

  1. Susan Peristere says:

    As a long time school nurse who happens to have type 1 diabetes, I would suggest parents emphasize to their child’s teacher, the cognitive changes in a child experiencing a “low”. I know from personal observation of many children and from first hand experience that “lows” may not always be verbalized and that awareness of outward signs are very important in early treatment of these lows. Any question and the child should test, go to the nurse, be treated or treat with fast acting glucose source. Sometimes in a busy classroom it is hard to notice the more subtle signs of hypoglycemia. Daily logs to and from home help to know each childs trends over any given time. I hope you don’t mind my imput.
    Sue Peristere RN

  2. I published an important study regarding diabetes case management. I noticed over the years this issue hardly gets addressed. It’s important we bring this issue to all teachers so they can have good management of students. Ms. Griffin is right in making sure that students receive proper treatment information beforehand – who else will be looking out for them?

    I will be taking my patients to the Joslin Diabetes Center

  3. Mark Wu says:

    How do patients with diabetes get good treatment?

    I plan to start a campaign soon to make things better for Diabetes patients

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