Getting kids ready to go back to school after summer vacation can be challenging in the best of times. Adding Covid-19 to the mix is going to make the 2020 school year even more trying.
This school year is going to present some unprecedented challenges and questions:
- How do we protect our kids from the virus?
- How do we sanitize our home after school and/or shopping?
- What is social distancing going to look like in classrooms and sports?
- What safety protocols need to be in place?
- What personal protective equipment will I have to send with my child to school?
- What sanitization resources are we going to need to have on hand?
The good news is that there are a lot of things we can do to help our kids prepare to go back to school during Covid-19:
- Normalize Mask Wearing
- Are you buying a mask? Try giving your child some of the newer child-friendly designs to choose from or get them to help decorate a pre-made mask.
- Are you making a mask? Let your child choose the material.
- Practice calming strategies like deep breathing, going outside, going for a walk, etc. while wearing a mask.
- Consider motivating kids to get used to wearing a mask by pairing it with something they enjoy, like allowing video game time (within your limits) while wearing their mask.
Does your child or youth still have struggles with mask wearing, despite your best efforts? Consider seeing your health-care provider to see if there might be other options, including seeing if your child may have a valid medical exemption.
Help your child continue to cope
- 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).
- Model healthy coping. Kids do best when they learn healthy ways to cope with adversity, such as following public health recommendations with masks and physical distancing (as opposed to unhealthy strategies such as focusing on negatives and blaming).
- Attach positive meaning to the pandemic. Kids do best when they can have a positive meaning of a situation. You might say: “On one hand, this pandemic has not been easy. On the other hand, we’ve been able to have a lot more fun times together. And learn new things such as how to cut each other’s hair!”
- Ease your child's worries. Does your child seem to have excessive fears and anxiety about COVID-19? 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: "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.”
The first week back to school
- Leave earlier than usual. Whether you are driving, or simply dropping off your kids at the bus stop, this will give you more flex time and help everyone relax.
- Consider working a shorter day on the first day back, so that you can pick them up earlier on the first day back, until they get used to the new routine.
- Establish a goodbye ritual. When it's time to say goodbye to your child, give them a final hug, kiss, say goodbye, and talk about when you’ll see them next. Don’t just say “Goodbye!”, but bridge the separation by talking about when you will see them next.
- Have you dropped off your child? Try to take some time just for yourself, whether it's going for a walk, to the coffee shop, having tea with a friend, or just going home to nap. Breathe a sigh of relief and savour this time, even if it’s only 5 minutes.
- Check in with your children about how the day went. If your child isn’t ready to talk, then ask them later when they are ready. You might ask: “How did your day go?” “How did it go with wearing your mask and keeping away from people and all that?” "What was hard, what was easy?"
- If they are sad, validate the sadness: “I can see you are feeling sad and it’s ok to cry. I’m going to miss you too.” Offer comfort like a hug or offering a tissue. Crying is good because it helps the brain process the emotions in a healthy way.
Exerpt from Form P6225E | www.cheo.on.ca
We’re all in this together, and together we will all get through this.
Sincerely, the team at Cato Clean