There is some debate about mask-wearing throughout the country, but most medical professionals agree that it is a simple and effective way to minimize the transmission of airborne germs. The City of DeLand has mandated mask-wearing while out in public as have some entire states around the country. As an adult, you’ve noticed how strange wearing a mask in public can be. Your face may get warm, your voice is muffled, and you may feel a little bit claustrophobic, not to mention how difficult it is to read the expressions of people you come in contact with. Now imagine you’re a 6-year-old kindergarten student experiencing all the same sensations.
The St. Barnabas School reopening plan goes into great detail about mask-wearing on our campus and in our classrooms. Please reach out to us if you need more clarity. We hope by now your children have become more comfortable with the idea. But, if your kindergarten child is still struggling with mask-wearing, here are some easy ways you can ease them into the idea.
1. Mask Wearing During Screen Time
Do you dedicate certain hours to the day for your kindergarten child’s screen time? Whether you’re allowing them to watch cartoons, or play games on an iPad, combining mask-wearing with a fun, quiet activity may be just the thing you need to help your child become more comfortable with it. The more time your child spends in a mask the less uncomfortable it will become. Do you remember the first time you went to a grocery store wearing a mask? It felt strange and maybe a little bit awkward, but now months into this pandemic you probably feel better about it. The same will happen with your kindergarten students once they have a little bit of practice.
2. Expose Them To Other People Wearing Masks
Anything brand new can feel strange and mask-wearing falls high on that list. As weird as it feels to wear masks, it looks even more bizarre to see other people in them especially because it’s something most of us have never been exposed to before. Your kindergarten child is experiencing all those same feelings and more. Be sure to expose your kindergarten child to the adults that they love and trust wearing masks. When you pair the familiarity of family and friends with the act of mask-wearing your children will learn to make a more positive association with the behavior.
3. Allow Your Child to Decorate Their Masks
If you’ve got to wear a mask it might as well be a cool mask! Purchase some white children’s face masks or if you’re brave, make your own. Then, gather all of your favorite craft supplies. Then let your kindergarten student go to town. Not only is this a fun activity, but it's a great opportunity to talk more about masks and why we are requiring students to wear them at certain points during the school day. Imagine your child walking up to school wearing a very cool mask of his or her own making. Priceless!
4. Make Sure Their Masks Fit Comfortably
An ill-fitting mask can be uncomfortable and annoying. You know how much your kindergarten child loves to wear things that are uncomfortable and annoying. Invest in a quality mask that is intended for children to ensure that you get the best fit. The more comfortable the mask is, the more likely your child will wear it when it is necessary.
5. Talk Openly About Why We Wear Masks
There is a lot of conversation in the world about how and why we should be wearing masks, but one thing that scientists all agree on is that masks minimize disease transmission. In particular, masks stop droplets from one person's mouth from coming into contact with the people around them. While mask-wearing does provide some protection for the wearer, the real power in community mask-wearing is to protect the community from a person who may be contagious without knowing it.
That is a lot of information, and probably too much for a kindergarten student to wrap their minds around. But what is much easier to understand is the fact that we wear masks because we want to keep our friends and families safe. We wear masks because we want to be part of the solution that helps bring an end to the spread of this ugly disease. Your kindergarten child is kind and empathetic and sometimes the best way to tell them the truth and empower them with the ability to make a difference on a small scale.
We know that you and your kindergarten children feel the difference in this school year. We’re all working together to make adjustments that will keep all of us safe while still providing your kids with the education that is so critical to them at this point in their lives. If you have any questions about our mask-wearing policies or our reopening plan, please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.