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Children & asthma

Asthma at school

With good asthma control, your child should not miss school and should be able to participate fully in school activities including sports.

Regular, clear communication with the school can help your child maintain good asthma control. You can help to prevent asthma problems at school by talking to your child's teachers and by making sure you child has proper asthma treatment.

Meet with your child's teachers each year before classes start
  • Give teachers a copy of your child's asthma action plan and explain what it says.
  • List and explain your child's asthma triggers and why it's important to avoid them. (Some common triggers in the classroom include furry animals, dust, mould and strong smells.)
  • Show teachers your child's asthma medicines and how to use them properly - make sure the medicines are well labelled.
  • Make sure the teachers know which medicine is the rescue medicine that helps in an asthma emergency (usually the blue inhaler).
  • Ask about the school's rules about asthma medicines - stress the importance of allowing your child to carry his medicines with him at all times.
  • Ask about policies for field trips - with a bit of extra planning most trips should be safe.
  • Offer to arrange an information session with a Certified Asthma Educator or Certified Respiratory Educator.
  • Make sure your child's teachers know what to do in an emergency and whom to contact

Emergency Sign What to do in an asthma attack

  • Sit child down, with her back straight.
  • Give child 2 puffs of her rescue medicine. It's usually in a blue puffer (for example, Ventolin®).
  • If the child's breathing is not getting easier, call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Keep giving child puffs of her rescue medicine until the ambulance arrives.
  • Call the child's parents or emergency contact person.
For teachers of students with asthma

Teachers can do a lot to help children maintain good asthma control. Children with well-controlled asthma should be able to fully participate in school activities, including sports.

There are many things teachers can do to help a student with asthma:
  • Ask for a copy of the child's asthma action plan. Read the action plan and keep it on hand
  • Meet with the child's parents and have them go over the student's asthma action plan with you. Disucss any questions you might have with the parents.
  • Ask parents about the student's asthma triggers - each person with asthma has her own set of triggers. As much as possible, remove asthma triggers from your classroom. (Some common triggers in the classroom include furry animals, dust, mould and strong smells.)
  • Learn about the student's asthma medications - what they do and what they're for. Learn the difference between a rescue medication (usually in a blue puffer- taken during asthma attacks or before exercise) and a preventer medication (often in an orange puffer- taken every day to prevent symptoms, but WON'T help in an asthma attack)
  • Remind the student to take her medications as scheduled and as needed; allow her to - and make sure she - carries her medicines with her at all times
  • Schedule regular follow-up meetings with the student's parents to stay informed about any changes to medications, symptoms etc.
  • Talk to your class about asthma so the student's peers understand why she may take medication or need to exercise indoors in very cold weather
  • Know what to do in an asthma emergency and who to call
Know and report warning signs of poor asthma control

Asthma symptoms often get worse slowly. As a teacher, you are well positioned to observe the early warning signs of poor asthma control. Because you spend a lot time with these students on a daily basis, you can identify changes in their symptoms and any problems. For example, you might notice that a student with asthma is suddenly reluctant to run around at recess or is coughing more than usual.

Common warning signs that asthma may be worsening:
  • Student is tired in class because of disturbed sleep
  • Missing school
  • Trouble exercising or seems reluctant to participate in gym class
  • Needs to use their rescue medicine (blue puffer) more than three times a week to relieve symptoms (except before exercise)
  • Coughing and/or wheezing

Take note of these symptoms and report them to the child's parents right away. By keeping track of the students' symptoms and reporting them you can help prevent symptoms from getting worse and reduce the risk of an asthma attack.

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