Children should learn about food allergies at a young age.
Kindergarten children are old enough to understand that some kinds of food can make people sick. They can also comprehend the fact that not everyone reacts to things in the same way.
A lesson on food allergies could be valuable to 5 and 6-year-olds and to the other children they will meet during their years in school.
Kindergarten-age children are learning about rules and about respecting others
It is likely that someone in the kindergarten students’ elementary school will have a peanut allergy. Even if no one in the school has this allergy, chances are good that the students will encounter another child on a soccer team or in their neighborhood who does have this allergy. It is important that students understand the seriousness of a peanut allergy reaction.
Teachers may want to invite a teenager or adult into class who has an allergy
Young elementary children love to meet all different types of people. Kindergarten teachers may want to invite someone who has a peanut allergy to come to speak to the children. She can share which foods she needs to avoid and how she does this. The students would enjoy asking the guest questions about foods that she substitutes for peanut butter, such as sunflower seed spread or almond butter, on her sandwiches.
A peanut lesson can be included in a unit on plants and how they grow
As the children are learning how a wide variety of plants grow, they will enjoy learning that peanuts are not actually nuts but are legumes. The teacher can show photos of peanuts growing in the ground, and if possible, it would be great to have some peanuts to show the children. Teachers need to continually monitor their students to see if any of them have a peanut allergy. It is best to show photos rather than allowing the students to touch and crack real peanuts.
Peanut allergy and other food allergy symptoms and treatments can be part of a unit on the human body
Kindergarten teachers have the difficult job of teaching young children many of the basics that they will need throughout their years in school. It will be a challenge to fit in a lesson on peanuts, especially if the students are only in class for half a day.
With some effort, teachers may be able to squeeze in a lesson on peanuts when teaching about the human body. Children of kindergarten age are very interested in learning about how the body and various systems work. The teacher could discuss allergic reactions and how they can cause hives, trouble breathing, and that they even cause people to need to go to the hospital if they have a severe allergic reaction.
Another way to fit in a lesson on peanuts
Almost all kindergarten classes have times when students share stories. The teacher can ask students to discuss allergies with their family and then report back to the class. Students can explain if someone in their family is allergic to peanuts and how the family handles this situation. Other food allergies can be discussed as well. By the end of class, students will have a better understanding of what it means to be allergic to peanuts.