How to Get Your Kids Ready for Back to School During COVID-19
The summer is coming to a close, and the school year is quickly approaching.
Though some of that schooling might occur at home or via a computer screen, prepping your kids early is still critical — at least if you want to ensure their health and educational success.
Are your little ones heading back to the classroom (virtual or otherwise) in the coming weeks?
Here’s what you can do to get them ready:
For in-person schooling:
If you’re going to be sending your kids back to campus this school year, you can expect the experience to be a little different this time around. There will likely be new processes, policies, and safety measures in place, and your child will need to take extra steps to safeguard their health (and the health of others) throughout the day.
Here’s a quick look at how you should go about prepping them for the new year:
1. Schedule a check-up with their pediatrician.
Make sure they’re in good health and that there are no underlying health issues that could put them at risk during in-person schooling. You’ll also want to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines and have had their flu shot.
While you’re at the appointment, be sure to talk to the doctor about possible measures you can take to keep them safe and healthy while in school — as well as how you can protect your family from any germs the kids might bring home.
2. Read through their school’s updated policies and rules.
School districts are making sweeping changes to protect students, teachers, and staff members from contracting the coronavirus, so be sure to read any updated rules and policies thoroughly. There are likely updates to how your child will enter school in the morning, how they’ll go from class to class, and what after-school activities they can participate in. There may even be instructional changes, like what classes they can take and what they can bring into the classroom.
3. Prep them for how school will be different.
Sit down with your child and talk them through the experience they can expect when on campus this year:
- What will be different?
- What will be the same?
- What are the consequences of not following the new rules and policies?
It’s important to set realistic and honest expectations well before that first day of school.
4. Brush up handwashing and sanitary procedures.
Make sure your kiddo is well-versed in thorough handwashing and knows to cough and sneeze into their elbow — not the air or their hand. You should also invest in plenty of masks or face shields.
Many schools are requiring these, but even in those that aren’t, it offers a smart way to protect both your child and those around them from potential infection.
If your child is on the older side, it also can’t hurt to stock their bag with some travel-size hand sanitizer. Just make sure it’s not one of the products listed as dangerous by the FDA.
5. Get them on a sleep schedule.
Waking up at 6 a.m. is probably going to come as quite a shock, so start easing them into it early. Wake them up 15 minutes earlier every day until you get them to the necessary school wake-up time, and make sure they’re going to bed at a decent hour, too. School will be challenging enough this year without sleeplessness compounding it.
6. Create a morning routine — one that includes a health checkup.
Come up with a morning routine that ensures the kids eat a healthy breakfast, have time to shower and dress, and won’t feel rushed or in a hurry. You don’t want them forgetting their bag (or worse, the masks and sanitizer inside it!)
7. You should also include a mini health checkup in your morning routine.
Put a thermometer by their toothbrushes, and make sure everyone checks their temperature before heading out. If it’s above 99 degrees, consider it a red flag and stay home just in case.
You can also have a list of symptoms you run through with each child:
- Does your tummy hurt?
- Do you have a cough?
- Is it hard to breathe?
- Is your nose runny?
Since these are all symptoms of COVID-19, it could help you spot the disease early.
For virtual schooling:
If your kids are heading back to school the virtual way, you’ll still need to prep them and make sure they’re ready for what’s to come. Specifically, you’ll need to:
1. Take time to understand what the schedule and demands will be like.
Stay in close contact with your child’s teachers and school, and make sure you understand what their responsibilities will be during the school day:
- How many hours will they be online?
- How many assignments can you expect?
- What will grading look like?
Once you understand these details, you can better lay out your child’s day, as well as how you’ll fit into it — especially if you’ll be working from home.
2. Create a visible schedule for your kids to go by.
Use a dry erase board or chalkboard to clearly map out the schedule your child is expected to adhere to for virtual learning. If at all possible, work in time for breaks, too, as these are critical to keeping them engaged and interested. Even just 15 minutes for a walk around the block or a healthy snack can make all the difference.
3. Make sure they have the necessary supplies and technology (and know how to use them).
Your child will likely be relying heavily on technology this year, so make sure they have the tools to do it. If you don’t have the right computer or tablet, ask your school district about rentals. Many are offering these to households in need of added devices, and some are even providing hotspots for those with interest problems.
You should also sit down with your student and make sure they can use the technology effectively. Maybe do a few trial runs of Zoom with a friend or family member just to be safe.
4. Get them on a sleep schedule.
Even though they’re not heading off to campus, they’ll still be logging into class — many times via video feed. That means they’ll need to be dressed, fed, and ready to pay attention the minute class time starts.
You also want them well-rested. School districts have vowed to make virtual learning be more stringent than it was in the spring, so they’ll need their full brain power if they want to succeed.
5. Establish a clearly defined workspace.
Finally, make sure they have their own designated spot to work. It should have all their supplies, their computer, a comfortable spot to sit, and easy access to a bathroom, water, and healthy snacks. A little natural light never hurt either.
If you’re short on space, carve out a spot for them at the dining room table or transform a closet into a private desk area. Get creative, and make sure your kiddos have the tools they need to be successful.
One last step
No matter what, talk to your kids.
Find out what they’re anxious or worried about, and get a pulse on their feelings about the situation this school year:
- Are they concerned about getting sick?
- Missing their friends?
- Staying on top of their assignments?
Understanding where they’re coming from can help you better set them up for success.
And don’t forget, if you need help setting up a workspace or getting that technology they need for virtual schooling, a cash-out refinance may be able to help.