You may have seen the jokes on social media where adults predict what kids wearing masks in school will be like. It does seem like an impossible task for teachers to keep their students safely wearing masks while teaching. But with the guidance released by OSPI for reopening schools in the fall, not wearing a mask or face covering isn’t really an option for most kids. So in an effort to help teachers save their sanity for when kids are finally able to go back to the classroom, parents can do their part to help prepare school-aged kids (masks are only for children over two years old) with the following tips:
1. Let them pick out their own masks
Back to school shopping might look a little different this year. In addition to the new shoes that are needed, you’ll also have to pick up a supply of kid-sized masks so that you’re not doing laundry every day (it’s recommended that you wash cloth masks after each use). Thankfully, many retailers have already started selling a great supply of kid-friendly face coverings to choose from. Let your child pick one or two to try out and ensure they are a good fit. Don’t forget to make sure you have extras of their “favorite” that they end up wanting to wear every day.
Alternatively, you can sew your own masks and use fabric that your child picks out. This option allows you to customize the masks to your child’s personality and style.
2. Teach them to put on and take off a mask properly
Now that you’ve acquired a variety of masks, practice putting them on and taking them off throughout the day at home. This will allow children to get used to the process and more accustomed to wearing a mask.
The CDC recommends teaching the following steps:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds before touching the mask
- Touch the mask by the ear loops only and place it over your nose and mouth fully while securing the loops behind your ears
- Make sure you can breath easily
How to properly remove the mask:
- Remove the loops from your ears without touching the face covering
- Fold outside corners together and put aside for washing
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds
3. Practice wearing the masks
Start wearing a face covering at home for short periods of time while doing fun activities. Some may only need a few minutes to adjust, while others may need to practice daily. Gradually work up to 30 minutes at first. You can even make it a competition. Who can wear their mask longest without touching it first!
Whenever it’s necessary to go outside the home and in public with your child, make sure they keep the mask on properly and continue practicing what they learned at home.
4. Follow a plan and offer rewards
Consistency helps form good habits. Make a plan with your family and stick to it! Find what motivates your child and set some fun goals or small rewards, if needed.
5. Make play masks for stuffed animals or dolls
Kids might think masks are not quite so scary when EVERYONE is wearing them…including their favorite toys! Help them using materials around the house (or coordinating fabric you’ve already sewn up) to make their favorite toy its very own mask!
6. Be a mask role model
Whenever you’re in public, make sure you’re wearing a mask yourself so that your child can learn by example. Also, take this opportunity to explain how wearing masks keeps both you and others around you safe.
It takes a village
As you and your child adapt to these changes, know that you’re not in this alone. Everyone else in the community is having to abide by the same rules and are encountering similar struggles. If we can all work together to prepare our kids for the upcoming school year, that’s probably the best “back to school” present we can send our teachers.