September 10, 2020

Tips for Preparing Your Child for Back-to-School in a COVID-World

Next week, our oldest heads off to kindergarten. And in the world that we currently live in, I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit stressed.

Starting "big kid school" alone is enough of a worry for parents - how will my child do, will my child make friends, will they miss me, and so on and so on, are all valid questions on our mind. Truth is, I don't feel prepared. BUT add on a global pandemic, potential exposure, new health and safety policies and procedures, wearing a mask all day, etc. etc., and things get a bit more worrisome.

tips for back to school during global pandemic; back to school letter sign

(^^ How was that one year ago already?! ^^)

The past few weeks I've spent a lot of time talking with other family members, parent friends and teacher friends to learn how they're feeling about sending their kids back to school, and the techniques they're applying to ensure a smooth transition.

Here are some of the things I learned, straight from the mouths of parents and teachers.

Side note: I understand that school has already started for some and for us in Toronto, is quickly approaching next week. However, it doesn't help to apply these tips anyways. 

Tips for Preparing Your Child for Back-to-School in a COVID-World

1. If your child is not used to wearing a mask, get them used to it as soon as possible.  Start in small increments (5-10min) and gradually build up.  Perhaps you can put a mask on their favourite stuffy to "normalize" it a bit more.  

*I know that school starts next week for us here in Toronto, and it may be too late to apply this tip. However, if you live outside of Toronto and masks are not mandatory in your child's school, it may not hurt to start applying this tip in the evening, just in case. 

2. If you are out shopping with your child, be intentional about showing them the signs and stickers on the floor which point out directions and the need for proper social distancing and what that looks like. 

3. For lunch or snack times, pack a tea towel or cloth in their bag for them to use as a placemat.

4. Make sure to pack a spoon and/or fork for your child to use so that they are limiting the need to put their hands in their mouths-especially for fruit which can be very sticky. 

5. Make sure that your child can open and close all of her/his containers,packages or thermos meals. 

6. Start practicing with your child how to zip up/button clothing and make sure to send your child to school with velcro shoes. Laces will not be tied up.👟

7. Start practicing a hand washing routine and how to do so properly (between the fingers, wrists, back of the hand). Same with sanitizing.  Do it multiple times in the am and pm.  

8. Talk to your child about how to behave in the bathroom at school.  It's not a place to play. Do your business and get out. And stay off the floor. 

9. Have a safety plan. If you are working and receive a call from the school that your child is ill, is there someone who can pick them up?  What protocols does your place of work have for parents who need to pick up a sick child?  

10. Invest in good outerwear for your child-rain boots, raincoat with a hood, snow pants and jacket, warm mittens and hats. This year students will be spending A LOT of time outdoors-rain or shine. 

Check out some of our favourite back-to-school gear for outdoor play, here.


11. Remember to pack an indoor pair of running shoes for the first day of school so that soiled outdoor shoes remain out of the classroom area.  Children will need a set of clothes to remain at school in case of spills or bathroom accidents. 

12. Label everything-masks, clothes, masks, water bottles etc. Mabel's Labels are durable labels that can get wet and won't wear off. We buy the Ultimate Back-to-School combo which includes 40 small rectangle labels, 70 Tag Mates stick on clothing labels and 16 shoe labels. 

Additional tip: If you have multiple children, order labels with your last name instead of the child's first name. This makes it easier if they share belongings. 

13. Invest in a breakaway lanyard or fanny pack for your child to place their mask when not in use. (We used this breakaway lanyard and this fanny pack - both Canadian small shops.)

14. Practice having your child apply sunscreen.  In the past we have helped apply it, but will be unable to do so this year.  Show them what an appropriate amount is and important places it needs to be applied.  

15. Ensure your child drinks enough water to stay hydrated. Talk about the importance of drinking water, and how it can help to keep them healthy. (This is our favourite reusable water bottle for kids.)

16. Pack extra masks in your child's backpack, just in case. Place them in a clean resealable sandwich bag. Also have an extra bag on hand for soiled masks. 

17. Have conversations. Having open, age-appropriate conversations with your children will help them know they are not alone, that we do not have all the answers, that flexibility is very important and that parents, teachers, doctors, etc. are doing everything possible to ensure their health and safety.

18. After spending many long months at home, children may feel nervous about going back to school and being apart from family members. There's a strong possibility of separation anxiety. Have conversations about going back to school and try to develop tools for your child to feel connected to home, such as notes in their lunchbox, or a family photo they can bring to school.

19. While visiting the interior of the school may not be allowed, take a walk through the outdoor yard. Show your child where they will enter, where you'll pick them up at the end of the day and where they will play outdoors. Children (especially kindergarteners) are creatures of habit, so walking them through where they will spend their time may make them feel more at ease. 

20. Remember, we're all in this together. Talk with your children and help them understand that anyone can get the virus, no matter where they are from in the world. We all must do our part to keep ourselves, family, friends and others safe and healthy. 

Keep in mind - these tips can be applied to children of all ages and are not restricted solely to those entering kindergarten. Practicing proper hygiene and health and safety procedures is important for everyone, regardless of your age. 

Do you have any tips and tricks for preparing your child for back-to-school in a COVID-world? I'd love to hear!

For those that have already started school, did you apply any of these tips? And did you find they were effective? Please share!


child with first day of school letter sign

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