Preparing Kids for a New School Year During COVID-19
This upcoming school year may look very different compared to previous years. Throughout the country, children will be going back to school in many different ways, some maybe virtually, some later than normal and some with fewer options like extracurricular activities and altered activities.
With the added issues of increasing sanitation and social distancing guidelines, it's more important than ever that our children implement a good routine before returning to the classroom.
10 Tips for Parents and Kids Returning to School During COVID-19
- Talk about COVID-19. Talk with your child before the school year about COVID-19 to prepare them for anticipated changes in the classroom or campus, including more frequent hand-washing and regular washing of commonly used items. Your child may be asked to bring their own labeled water bottle as water fountains are not being used. Pending age, medical status and geographic location your older child may be asked to wear a face covering if required and appropriate (based on age, medical condition, etc). Be sure to advocate for your child if you think any accommodations are not appropriate for your youngster.
- An honest and open discussion can help minimize fear and anxiety for your child. Realize that the change in routine can affect your child’s psychology and that they may be more fearful if the adults around them project fear and anxiety. For young children and children new to a new school environment, it may be helpful to schedule an appointment before the first day of school to tour the classroom and grounds and possibly meet with the new teacher. If your child will be doing distance learning in the fall, clevercrazes.com can help provide additional online educational resources.
- Establish a regular bedtime. Summer activities like swimming, sports and just staying up later to enjoy the long days of summer can affect your family's sleep schedule. Sleep is essential to childhood growth and health. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, children between the ages of 6 to 12 need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night. While teens need between 8 to 10 hours of sleep. Start to get your children back on a regular sleep schedule a few weeks before school begins. Each night try getting them to bed 10-15 minutes earlier, and waking them up a little earlier in the morning.
Prepare for the morning the night before. Get your children in the habit of choosing their clothing, packing their lunches and having their school bags packed the night before. This can help eliminate hectic mornings, especially if you are heading off to work.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Try to have your children wake up at the same time each morning and eat a good, healthy breakfast.
- Talk about the school day with your child. It can be hard to find time for everyone to be at the dinner table at the same time but try to do this or find a special time to catch up with them and ask them about their day.
- Get up to date with physicals and vaccines. If you haven't already, schedule appointments with your child's pediatrician to make sure their sports physical and immunizations are all up to date. Children going off to college need the meningitis vaccine and both females and males should be vaccinated against HPV starting around age 11 or 12.
- Eat a healthy diet. After summer trips to the ice cream parlor and the ballpark, it may be time to make a renewed commitment to eating healthy. The Mediterranean diet is found to have the most health benefits and consists of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Citrus foods high in vitamin C and foods rich in zinc are important in warding off viruses and infections.
- Preparing the college bound. If your child is going away to college for the fall semester, make sure they are fully aware of all of the changes their school is doing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Talk to them about being safe on and off campus, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. Let them know your expectations and keep an open path of communication.
- Celebrate the little things! Be sure to celebrate when your child gets on the Honor Roll, reads their first book or does their own laundry at college!
Most children and young adults have physically weathered this pandemic well and they are eager to return to school to learn, socialize and grow up.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Holly L. Thacker, MD and Leigh Klekar
Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.
Leigh Klekar is the Speaking of Women’s Health’s freelance Online Community Manager. She has been working with the Speaking of Women's Health team for 10 years.
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