4 things to remember as you prepare your children to return to school
- Until all children can be vaccinated against COVID, pediatricians recommend that children wear masks in school. Masks aren’t going to end the pandemic, but they are the simplest way to help protect our kids. There is speculation about the type and fit of masks for kids, so keep it simple. You should have masks for your kids that are comfortable and fit correctly. A mask with a flexible nose bridge and ear loops that adjust are great. A three-layer mask that fits well is highly recommended for unvaccinated elementary kids. And to ensure that masks don’t become safe havens for other illnesses, make sure there is at least 1 extra mask stowed in your child’s backpack in case one becomes wet or dirty. Lanyard: optional, but a great idea!
- Basic health is important. This includes a healthy diet, good quality sleep, regular physical activity, and self care for mental health. These things are what allow your immune system to function at optimal levels. If you aren’t already, try to do these things four days in the next week: get sweaty, eat a meal as a family, and go to bed early. How much sleep is recommended for kids: 10-12 hours per night for elementary kids and 8 hours per night for teenagers!
- Along with mental health, keep this in mind. Some kids haven’t been in a school for over a year! If you don’t think that will contribute to some anxiety, you’re delusional. We’ve been harping on them to avoid crowds, and we’re about to release them into small classrooms with 19 other kids. You can help ease some of the anxiety by talking to your child about what to expect, working with your pediatrician, and contacting the school counselor. You can learn more about anxiety in children (signs, symptoms, and treatment) in this article by Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician out of the Kansas City area.
- The pandemic will end. Many of us are frustrated with the situation, and we shouldn’t hide this from our children. At the same time, you can’t let it contribute to their anxiety (See #3). We are the barometers of their hope, and extending grace to one another during this difficult time will help our children more than you might realize. We are doing our best, and we have to have faith that the pandemic will end.