GUELPH – As adults we’re getting very used to wearing a mask throughout the day, but as the school year approaches, we understand that some of our youngest learners may not be as comfortable with the mask as our older learners.
We’ve put together some information about why it is important for our young learners to wear masks when they attend school, as well as some tips for parents/guardians to help prepare these students for wearing a mask during the school day.
Why do we wear masks?
We know that COVID-19 can spread from person to person through breathing, talking, sneezing and coughing.
When we wear a mask, we’re not only protecting ourselves, but we are protecting other people, which helps make fewer people sick. Explain to your child the reason behind wearing a mask to help them become aware of why it is so important.
It is also important to make sure that young kids wear their mask properly by covering their nose and mouth and to teach them to always wash or sanitize their hands after taking a mask off or putting it on.
Tips to help young learners feel more comfortable with mask usage:
Make wearing a mask fun: Find fun masks that your child would want to wear. Look for masks with their favourite characters, animals or colours. You can also opt for a plain mask and have your child decorate it with markers, beads or sequins.
Find masks that are comfortable for your child: There are many things out there to help make a mask more comfortable including extenders, ear protectors and headbands. Experiment with these if you’re able and find what your child is most comfortable wearing. You can also talk to the parents/guardians of other young learners to see what makes their child more comfortable.
Lead by example: Get your child used to wearing a mask by showing them how it is done. If you’re wearing a mask while they wear a mask, this helps children get used to listening toother mask wearers and talking while wearing a mask. You can also put a mask on your child’s favourite stuffed animal, to get them used to everyone wearing a mask.
Help them visualize their mask by having them add masks to their drawings or by looking up photos of other kids wearing masks.
Use positive reinforcement: When your child is wearing their mask properly, praise them for doing so. When your child wants to have screen time, have them wear their mask while they are looking at the screen. This gets children used to wearing a mask for longer periods, while also helping them associate mask-wearing with something positive that they enjoy.
Use videos to help your child see the importance of wearing a mask: There are many free videos available online that are catered to children. These visuals often help children better understand the importance of wearing a mask.
Remember to be patient with our youngest learners, some kids may take longer to get used to wearing a mask, but if we all work together, we can help these students transition to school.
For more information about the Upper Grand District School Board’s masking requirements, visit the board website.