This year, returning to school may look and feel a lot different. And while we may not know exactly how different school will be for kids and families, the usual mixed emotions about returning to school will undoubtedly be met with heightened concerns regarding protecting your family from COVID-19.
Whether your child is returning to school in person or not, it’s very important to ensure they are up to date with health check-ups, especially if any vaccines are needed. Amit Desai, MD, at AdventHealth Medical Group Family Medicine at Lake Nona, is a board-certified family medicine physician offering pediatric care to the community.
To help ease your minds and support your family, we have some general tips on preparing to return to school feeling more empowered and prepared as a family.
Healthy Transition Tips for Kids
Take your kids back-to-school shopping online for new clothes and supplies. Also stock up on easy-to-pack lunch items that boost the mind and body, such as whole-grain cereal, granola bars and fruit.
If you’re doing virtual education, help your child become familiar with new technologies before school starts. Having everything stocked and ready will boost the confidence of the whole family.
Connect Them with Friends
If your kids are attending a new school, connect with other parents and try to set up virtual play dates so the kids can get to know some classmates before school starts. Ask the school to recommend local clubs or groups that your kids could safely join to meet potential classmates, too. Learn about what the school and groups are doing with safety measures to protect kids while encouraging fun.
Practice Your New School Schedule
Start setting an alarm well before the first day of school so your kids can adjust to the new wake-up time in advance. If your kids are attending a new school, see if they are promoting any virtual tours so your kids can meet the teachers and know what to expect on the first day. Every little thing you can practice, from locker combinations to knowing the route to the bus stop, will help your child relax when the big day comes.
Model a Positive Attitude
Keep your own anxiety about school starting to yourself and focus on the fun opportunities that a new school year brings. In addition, be available and open to listen to any worries your kids may have and offer support through the transition to a new school year.
It's also important to model safe social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene so your kids will continue these behaviors in school when they are not by your side.
Dr. Desai explains, “Children will model whatever behavior the adults near them practice. The more safety precautions you take as their role model, the more likely it is that children will comfortably mimic that behavior. This includes mask wearing, washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, taking shoes off before entering the house, and wiping down workstations before and after use.”
Outline the steps your kids will need to take to get ready for school each day and place the list in an easy-to-see spot, like the front of the refrigerator. Your list might include getting dressed, eating breakfast, packing a lunch and brushing teeth before leaving for school.
Get a Health Check-up
Whether your child’s school requires a school physical or not, it’s a good idea to check in with his or her pediatrician for a health check-up to start the year out healthy and strong. This is a good opportunity to talk to your child’s pediatrician about school nutrition, sports or any other concerns that you have regarding COVID-19 or other health issues.
Have an Emergency Plan
Preparedness brings peace of mind. Download and print an emergency contact card that your child can keep in their backpack. It allows you to list important phone numbers, medical allergies and more so your child and their teachers know who to call in case of emergency.
We’re Here to Support You
Taking these steps to help your kids feel more comfortable about starting a new school year will go a long way to bringing more peace and confidence in your home. Before you know it, your kids will be settled into the routine.
If you’re in need of a care provider, we’re ready when you’re ready. Find a family medicine physician who will be your family’s partner in whole health today.