The end of summer and going back to school can be challenging in the best of times. Now that we are returning back to school under COVID-19 conditions, it is even harder. The good news is that there are many things that you can do to support your children and youth with school starting up during COVID-19.
If you are still wondering what would be the best option for your child – in-class learning, online learning or home school – and you are offered some choices by your school district, the Centers for Disease Control has put out some guidelines to help with back-to-school, as well as well as a decision making tool to help you weigh the risks and benefits of each option.
Here are more tips to help with transitioning from the longest March break ever, to going back to school.
1. Wash hands: This is the number one thing anyone can do to prevent nasty viruses from spreading. Colds, viruses and strep throat are common illnesses seen in those first few weeks of school. The best defense is good hand hygiene, including proper hand washing, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Show your children how to wash their hands with soap and water, and for at least 20 to 30 seconds. If you have very little ones, tell them to sing the ABCs while they are washing. Dry hands on a clean towel! When hand washing isn’t available, provide your child with their personal unscented hand sanitizer.
2. Get used to mask wearing. Some children will be able to wear masks easily, but others may have a harder time. If masks are mandatory in your school, look for comfortable ones. This may require quite a few mask purchases, but involve your child in the process. Make sure they masks are washed properly after every use.
3. Nourishment. Get your kids to eat breakfast in the morning. Fuel them. Eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should include complex carbohydrates and protein to get them through the morning.
4. Start a schedule. Gradually get back into the school year structure and routines. Bring up the topic that summer is coming to an end and that school will be restarting. Talk about routines. You might say: “Hey guys, with COVID-19, you’ve had a lot more screen time than usual, but now that school is starting up again, we’re going to get back into our old routine…”
5. Sleep. Make sure your kids have enough sleep. Studies show that kids need at least 8 to 12 hours of sleep per night. Shut down things like computers, phones and television.
6. Keep active. At least 30 minutes of exercise every day is the recommendation for keeping heart-healthy! If you have been going on family walks during COVID, maybe this is something that can be continued with back-to-school.
7. Help your child continue to cope. This is a new experience for everyone. Stay connected to your kids. Kids do best when they feel loved by their caregivers, which happens when you spend quality time with them and listen, validate and empathize with their feelings (as opposed to seeing adults as being angry, upset, and emotionally unavailable to them).
8. Ease your child’s worries. Does your child seem to have excessive fears and anxiety about the coronavirus? COVID-19 restrictions (such as restricting parents from entering the school) may lead your child to feel more isolated.
• Ask about their fears, and try to reassure or problem solve. Ask them, “What worries you the most?”
• Validate and accept your child’s feelings about the situation. You might say, “I can see why you might be feeling [insert your child’s feelings here] about this.”
9. Multivitamins, omega-3s and vitamin D3 all provide support for kids’ growing bodies and brains. A multivitamin provides nutrients where a diet may be lacking. Omega-3 (especially DHA) has been shown to help with brain function. And vitamin D3 supports the immune system.
Photo from here, with thanks.