Supporting your child’s health as they return to school post lockdown.
How parents can help their children get back to school with new habits.
School closures have been implemented in most countries worldwide as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing an unprecedented disruption of education, affecting more than 90% of the school population. The coronavirus outbreak has caused major disruptions to daily life and children are feeling these changes deeply.
Children may feel nervous or reluctant to return to school, especially if they have been learning at home for months. Here are some tips to have help your child go through some of the changes they may expect at school.
Wearing protective masks
Children may also get upset or frustrated if they are finding it hard to wear masks, especially when running or playing. You can reassure your children that lots of adults are working hard to keep your family safe, but emphasize that it's important we all follow the recommended measures to take care of more vulnerable members of our community.
Maintaining social distancing from friends
Children may also find it difficult being physically distanced from friends and teachers while at school – you could encourage them to think about other ways to bond and stay connected.
Remind children about the positives – that they will be able to see their friends and teachers (if they are physically returning to the classroom) and continue learning new things.
Reassure children about safety measures in place to keep students and teachers healthy and remind children that they can also help prevent germs spreading by washing their hands with soap and coughing or sneezing into their elbow. One of the best ways to keep children safe from COVID-19 and other diseases is to simply encourage regular handwashing. It doesn't need to be a scary conversation. Sing along with their favourite song or do a dance together to make learning fun. Make sure to teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. When children understand why they need to wash their hands, they’re likely to continue doing so.
You can also show children how to cover a cough or a sneeze with their elbow, and ask them to tell you if they start to feel like they have a fever, cough or are having difficulty breathing.
A balanced diet is essential in keeping the immunity levels high during this time, especially after many months of staying at home the change in diets should be carefully handled to sustain their health. Children need sufficient energy and nutrients for growth and health. The consumption of sufficient amounts of essential nutrients daily, such as essential fats and vitamins A, D (partly) and E along with essential fats are needed for normal growth and development of children.
In addition to checking in on your child’s physical health and learning when they go back to school, you should also keep an eye out for signs of stress and anxiety. Whether at school or at home, caregivers can engage children in creative activities, such as playing and drawing, to help them express and communicate any negative feelings they may be experiencing in a safe and supportive environment. This helps children find positive ways to express difficult feelings such as anger, fear or sadness.
As children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives – including parents and teachers – it is important that adults manage their own emotions well and remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them. It’s important to demonstrate that it’s normal and OK to feel overwhelmed at times. When in doubt, empathy and support are the way to go.