In September, as the air gets cooler, kids load their new notebooks, folders, and pencils into their new backpacks. When the first day of school finally arrives, parents shuttle their children out the door and cross their fingers for smiles and a great first day. This year, however, back-to-school looks vastly different as the country is still dodging COVID-19 minus a vaccine.
Whether your child is learning virtually, in-school or following a hybrid schedule, here are some helpful tips for the return of school during this unprecedented year:
Unfortunately, in order to return in-person to the classroom in-person this fall, most children over the age of 2 will be required to wear a face covering. A good rule of thumb is to have your child practice wearing their mask around the house or even out with friends. The more children practice wearing a mask, and even picking out a mask they like, the better prepared they will be to keep it on during the school day.
Reinforce Proper Hygiene
Although we all may be tired of hearing the phrase “wash your hands,” it is one of the most important things both you and your children will do this fall. Good old fashioned soap and water is the best way to kill germs that you encounter, so make hand washing a priority before eating, after you go inside your home and after using the bathroom. With smaller children, sing a silly or familiar song while you wash your hands to make it less mundane and fun. If your child eats lunch or snack at school, you could even send him/her in with a travel size hand sanitizer for added protection
Keep Connected While Physically Distant
This fall children will be spaced out and told to stay away from one another. This new COVID-19 rule is the exact opposite of the norm, but this year it is necessary to limit the virus’s spread. However, being physically distant does not mean that your child cannot develop relationships and forge friendships. Children can still get together safely and while the weather is nice, preferably outdoors to play. Hopefully, they are in class and seeing friends, even behind masks. If they are virtual, encourage them to keep in touch with friends over FaceTime, through sports or even via clubs if offered by your school.
Now more than ever, it is vital that children and adults alike get an adequate amount of sleep each evening. The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) recommends different amounts of sleep based on your child’s age. The AAP recommends that preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep, grade schoolers need 9-12 hours and teenagers generally need between 8-10 hours of sleep each evening.
After a long summer of what may have involved late nights playing video games on Fortnite or watching television, it’s important that your children wind down each night. By getting on a regular sleep schedule you are ensuring that you are ready and alert for a smooth morning.
Talk to Your Children
Returning to school this fall may stir up uneasy feelings of anxiety among children and they may not know how to deal with it. This past spring, they were abruptly told to remain at home so they wouldn’t get sick and returning to school may stir up some back-to-school anxiety.
It’s a good idea to continuously check in with your child to make sure he/she isn’t feeling anxious about returning to school. Parents can ensure that their school has done everything to keep them safe and will continue to monitor it throughout the fall.
Although this fall looks vastly different in schools throughout the country, parents and students can still try to make the best of the situation and take steps to ensure a successful school year. Navigating a pandemic seems impossible, but families can do their part by ensuring their children are following appropriate protocols to stay safe.
Happy safe & new school year everyone!