This school year will be a little different.
If you’re a parent of school-aged children, you’re likely feeling uneasy about the upcoming year (sending your kids to school in the times of COVID-19).
Whether your kids are going to school or learning from home, I know it wasn’t an easy decision. From one parent to another, I’m proud you made the decision that works best for your family and circumstances.
There are many things to consider this year when it comes to our children’s learning and education, physical/mental health and safety, and none of it is easy. We’re all here to support each other.
We’ve put together a list of 11 ideas for your back-to-school list, to help kids stay happy and healthy in the classroom this fall.
Let’s work together with our school communities to help stop the spread (and have the best school year possible)!
Masks are likely to be mandatory at most schools for children of certain grades/ages (some school boards may even provide one). Pick up comfortable, breathable cloth masks for each day of the week in your child’s favourite patterns or colours (plus a few extras in case they get lost). Pack a spare mask in a ziploc bag, tucked in your child’s backpack.
Is your child uncomfortable or not used to wearing a mask for extended periods of time (like they would be at school)? Practice beforehand (start gradual). Try this genius idea before school starts . . . all the screen time you want, if you’re wearing a mask.
An important note on safety.
Suggestions have been shared online to attach your child’s mask to a lanyard as a way to prevent it from getting lost. Remember that lanyards (or anything around the neck) can pose a strangulation risk. If you choose this, be sure it is a breakaway lanyard with a quick release snap or other safety feature (or better yet, just pack some spare masks instead).
A must have item this school year. Pick up small bottles of hand sanitizer (refillable) that can be kept in a backpack, pencil case, on a desk, clipped to a lunch bag, etc. Unscented or lightly scented may be more appropriate for school and on the school bus. Refill (or send new ones) regularly.
CLIPS & HOLDERS
Worried about those little bottles of hand sanitizer getting lost? Many decorative, silicone holders are available in lots of cute styles for kids that can attach/clip to school bags, pencil cases, and even belt loops for older children (like a keychain).
Make a “kit”. Pack an extra mask (or two), a small bottle of hand sanitizer, a mini pack of tissues, etc., into a small bag, fanny pack, or ziploc bag that can be tucked into your child’s backpack or desk at school (anywhere that is easily accessible during the day). Restock as needed.
No sharing this year. You’ll need one set of standard school supplies for your child’s own use at school, and possibly another set for at home. Supplies are less likely to be sent back and forth between school and home this year (and with the possibility of more school closures, having a second set at home may be a good idea).
Don’t forget labels. Does your child often misplace their supplies at school? Label everything. Consider picking up a few extra pencils and other key supplies just in case, to be sure they’ll always have everything they need (classmates won’t be able to share).
Online learning could be a possibility again this year should schools have to close. It may be worthwhile to consider investing in a tablet, chromebook, or headphones/mic for your child’s use at home (to participate in google classroom, google meets, or zoom meetings remotely). Schools may be able to loan electronics to families whose children don’t have access to necessary devices at home.
You’ll need lots, so stock up if you see a sale. Wash hands thoroughly before going to school, and make it the first thing your kids do when they get home in the afternoon.
Dry hands from all that washing? Check out our post on the best tips for moisturizing relief.
Add these to your list (if you can manage to find them). Disinfecting wipes are still out of stock in many stores, but can be used to effectively clean any items brought back and forth between school and home (like supplies, lunch bags, electronics, etc.). Keep a supply at home.
Don’t send your child to school sick. Screen for possible symptoms every morning and take their temperature before school. Make it part of your morning routine. Consider investing in a good thermometer (forehead readings keep it quick and simple). If your child has a fever (or any symptom), keep them home.
AFTER SCHOOL CLOTHES
Change clothes after school (consider having your kids take a quick shower too). Clothing worn to school should go straight into the wash. Don’t let anyone walk through the house in shoes worn at school. Buy a few extra items, or set aside comfy clothing that your kids already have, to be designated as after school clothes.
Not something you need to buy, but these should definitely be on your back to school list of important things to do. We remind our kids not to forget their lunches or homework. Now, we’ll be adding a few other reminders too (like masks and sanitizer). Also, gently remind your kids each morning about the importance of physical distancing (where possible) at school, not touching your face, washing hands, etc., to help them get in the habit every day.
This school year will be different for kids. It will not be ideal. With all the extra rules, reminders, and strict emphasis on health, some children might be feeling anxious or unsure. Stay positive. Listen to them, reassure them, demonstrate understanding, and remind them to be aware. But also, be an example of positivity. Share in the excitement and happiness of returning to school. As parents, we can set the tone for our kids and help them see the good.
Teachers will be faced with uncertainties. Provide them with support and understanding. At higher risk themselves, they are working under stress and pressure, doing the best they can to educate and be there for our children. It may not be an easy start to the year. We’re all in this together, let’s be patient and support one another.
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