Let us not beat around the bush. 2020 has been a very difficult year for parents.
Irregular school terms. Children staying at home for prolonged periods of time. Online schooling. And of course, the very scary return to schools.
This year, a lot more focus has been put on what it means for children to practice good health habits and be hygienic whilst at school. And parents have been bombarded with rules, regulations, do’s, and don’ts and keeping track of it all can be quite dizzying.
Let us look at some of the best tips you can apply to keep your child, yourself, your family, and the school safe.
The government has issued guidelines to schools that they should follow for the health and safety of the students, but it is advisable to make your child aware of these guidelines and policies and educate them on the best practices for health and safety, especially in these trying times.
Here are a few things you can do as a parent to help your child be their safest whilst at school:
Encourage Correct Mask Wearing
Masks are one of our strongest tools when it comes to preventing COVID-19 infections. Masks become exponentially more effective when firstly, more people wear them and secondly, they are worn and operated correctly.
Teach your child to cover both their mouth and nose when wearing a mask. You can also practice the correct way to put on a mask by avoiding ever touching the cloth part of the mask and only touching the bands when putting the mask on. Masks should always be worn when in the classroom and should be worn outdoors when surrounded by other students. Teaching your child to wear their mask correctly will make both them and their classmates safer. The best way to encourage safe mask wearing is by making it a family effort.
You should also encourage your child to be respectful of their classmates’ masks, and not remove someone else’s mask, or switch masks with another student.
We would recommend that you clearly mark your child’s mask as to avoid any mix-ups.
Encourage your child to practice good hygiene whilst at school
The most effective way to avoid spreading germs is by practicing proper hand washing. Teaching your children to sing the alphabet or the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end will teach them how much time should be spent on this task as the proper duration for handwashing is at least 20 seconds. Encourage your children to wash both the front-and back of their hands as well as in-between fingers. Hand sanitizer is a good alternative when soap and water are not available. You can give your child a skin-safe hand sanitizer to use in class.
Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue or into their elbows to avoid airborne germs from reaching other students.
Help your child manage nerves and anxiety
Usually children are anxious when returning to school, and the effects of COVID-19 and how it affected you and your life at home are bound to make your child even more anxious. Take time to assure your child that everything will be okay. Make sure your child is aware of who their teacher is, how their class register works and how they can contact you in the case of an emergency. This alone will help ease your child’s nerves.
Furthermore, you can implement healthy habits like meditation or breathing exercises, all of which have been proven to calm people down and lower anxiety levels.
Good food and hydration
We have all been there, it is the middle of your workday, you forgot to bring lunch, you are grumpy, and the rest of your workday seems to drag on and on.
The same goes for children at school. Without proper nutrition to give them a boost during their school day, by the afternoon your child will be tired, worn out and even a little moody.
The best way to avoid this is to ensure your child has a proper lunch bag at school. Pack them a lunch time meal with carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Be sure to mix it up and introduce new foods to your child as this helps them form healthier eating habits later in life. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend packing your child’s lunch in a disposable paper bag as to avoid cross-contamination.
Hydration is super important too. Keeping your kids hydrated with healthy drink choices like water and milk has many benefits. It will help prevent fatigue, improve mood, aid digestion and maintenance, and enhance brain function.
Try to eliminate sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks, as they are often packed with sugar, caffeine, and other unwanted ingredients. We would discourage your child from drinking from the public drinking fountain at school. Rather give your child a water bottle or flask and encourage them to drink the whole bottle/flask once or twice during the school day. This will ensure proper hydration and create good water drinking habits later in life.
We hope that some of these tips and tricks will help you through what has already been a particularly tough school year and prepare you for the next school year right on its heels.
For more information on how you can keep your child safe at school, and what the school guidelines and regulations are during the pandemic, visit the government school portal.