If your child is starting Pre-K or Kindergarten this Fall, there may be a great deal of uncertainty about what that experience will actually look like.
Distance learning may not be an option for children this age, who learn best by having concrete experience with learning materials and toys, and face-to-face interaction with their teachers and other children. In-person learning may not be realistic either because young children often struggle with social distancing and mask-wearing.
Whether your child attends school this September or not, here are 5 ways to make them more comfortable with wearing a mask.
1. Explain in simple age-appropriate terms that we need to wear a mask to keep ourselves and others healthy. The face-covering keeps us safe from giving germs to others and from getting germs from them—no need to go into frightening detail about what happens if we do get sick.
2. Allow children to choose a mask to purchase, or to help make or decorate their mask. Their participation can help foster ownership and more of a willingness to wear a mask.
3. Have masks available for creative dramatics and imaginary play. Make a few smaller versions for their dolls and stuffed animals so they can be included in the action. Having their favorite “stuffy” masked helps to normalize face coverings. Toy Doctor’s kits and Superhero capes are great props to stimulate pretend play with masks.
4. Introduce the word “practice.” Suggest that they practice wearing their mask while watching a video or listening to a story.
5. Model “masking.” When they are practicing wearing a mask at home, you should too. Though it doesn’t always seem so, your example will always be the biggest influence.
And finally, know that if your child is attending school in-person, they will be more likely to follow their teacher’s instructions about mask-wearing when other children are doing so as well. Most kids want to be in-step with their peers and in this case, it will serve them well.