A lot of us have been wearing masks for a while. If you have kids over age two, chances are they’re great at it too.
As parents, we’re asked to do a lot to keep our kids safe. It’s been especially true through this pandemic. It is normal to feel anxious, unsure and tired. With school starting so soon, it’s okay to feel uncertain about how to talk to kids about masking. OHA’s statewide rule for 2021-22 school year requires face coverings in all indoor school settings, both public and private, for all people two years and older, including all students, staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors.
Here are some tips to support your kids to feel confident in choosing to mask up at school:
- Kids pick up on our moods even before we’re aware of them. Having a talk with your kids about their feelings and worries is a great first step. Acknowledging those emotions and working together helps everyone feel supported.
- By now, your kids know why wearing a mask is important. (Thank you so much!) Kids love helping. For younger kids, try and find the positive reasons why wearing a mask is important.
- Model masking yourself and through others by talking about other heroes who wear masks. Heroes like doctors and nurses and health care professionals wear masks! Your kids may respond best to superheroes or cartoon characters.
- Practice effective masking at home. Practice putting on and taking off masks in front of a mirror. Have fun adjusting the straps and nose pieces. Younger kids love playing teacher, you could do an art project together while wearing your masks.
- Encourage them and notice good masking behavior. No matter the age, let them know that you’re proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves! Thank them for being amazing helpers and friends.
- Prepare them for mask free times such as lunch or recess. Let your children know it’s okay to take off their masks when they’re eating and drinking with others. You’re already doing an amazing job teaching them to be comfortable with their bodies. A mask is just another side of it.
- Practice talking about masking: When at school, your kids will meet friends who have different ideas about masking. Be open and honest about your family culture and your feelings. Role-playing is a great way to problem solve and practice together. There are so many great and kind ways to build confidence in masking as a safe practice with statements like, “I like my mask. I feel safe with it on, and I hope you to feel safe with me too.” No matter what, let them know there are safe adults who will support them in school.
- Prepare yourself for the after-school check in. It’s okay to want to ask if they felt safe and if they had problems with their mask that you could solve together. Let it be a part of the conversation.
- Talk to your teacher about masking encouragement, enforcement and support. Honest conversations do so much and may help navigate all those emotions we’re feeling.
You can read more about wearing a mask at school here.