[Over the next couple of months, we will be outlining asthma management tips and strategies to help early learning practitioners better serve preschool-aged children. This blog is the first in the series.]

What does asthma feel like? To better understand what a preschooler is experiencing when having an asthma attack at your center, try this demonstration: Take a drinking straw, place it in your mouth, pinch your nose shut and breathe through the straw for 60 seconds.

If a child is experiencing an asthma attack, the first step of action is to use a rescue albuterol inhaler or nebulizer. However, parents sometimes don’t provide the medication, which can be troublesome once an asthma attack occurs.

Lack of medication is one of the many barriers that can interfere with an early learning practitioner’s ability to properly handle a child’s asthma attack. Others include:

  • Inability to contact parents
  • Need for asthma education for staff
  • Lack of an asthma action plan that addresses exercise/activity
  • Lack of proper equipment such as a nebulizer, adequate tubing, and inhalers with spacers

The best place to start is to create a partnership of care with your student’s family. Work with them to ensure that basic asthma education; support for teaching the child self-management skills; or referrals to outside agencies for education, materials and other resources are available to them.

If you are looking for an educational program that addresses asthma in the classroom, Breathe Pennsylvania offers a two- to three-hour asthma training for Early Learning Practitioners. For more information, contact me at jsimms@breathepa.org.