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In many school districts around the country, children will be returning to school sometime this month. This school may take a variety of forms but face-to-face instruction may be a part for many families. This will require the children to wear masks.
Training children to wear a face mask during school in order to prevent the spread of germs will no doubt be one of the more harrowing and challenging aspects of being a teacher during the 2020 – 2021 school year.
Parents as well will likely face their share of difficulties in enforcing mask wearing protocol in order to protect children and prevent further spreading of Coronavirus.
Below find some ideas for getting kids used to wearing a mask and creating the optimum mask-wearing scenario when out in public in places such as schools, libraries, stores, and more.
Tips for Selecting Masks for Children
Try a mask that is made from breathable material. Your child may do well with a 100% cotton mask or perhaps a mask that is crafted of silk.
Have a Test Drive
Have your child test different masks. If you have time before school begins, you might purchase a variety of face masks. You can check to see which one seems to be the ideal fit and comfort level for your child or children.
Buy a Bunch
Once you find a mask or masks that seem to work for your kids, purchase them in bulk. If the masks are washable (which they ideally should be), get into the habit of doing a mask wash and dry several times a week — depending on how many you buy.
Create a Storage Space for Masks
Designate a location where you store masks in your home for easy access. Since this is fated to be a difficult school year, to say the least, it may be helpful to create cubbies for your children to store all of their school items, as well as activity-related items, in one place. This can include a spot for your child to keep his or her clean mask which should be placed in a plastic bag in order to prevent germs from collecting on the mask when not in use.
Assign Masks to Each Child
Designate a mask type or color for each child. Label each bag with a child’s name so that your kids will be less likely to mix up his or her masks with other students at school or with the masks of their own siblings. If you happen to be a seamstress or have access to someone who can custom-make masks for your family, it might be a cute idea for them to hand-stitch each person’s first name to their masks so there won’t be any question of whose is whose.
Is privacy a concern? Then you can stitch on a smaller set of initials, or hide the letters inside of the mask.
Tricks to Encourage Mask Wearing
Rewards are Rewarding
Try a reward system for good mask-wearing practices. Many children respond favorably to reward incentives rather than discipline. No doubt it will be difficult to get your kids to wear masks. However, like any other typical social practice that we now take for granted, you can get your child into the habit of wearing a mask by using positive reinforcement.
For example, you might ease children into the mask wearing practice at home by having them do their daily activities while wearing the mask starting for a half an hour or so, and working your way up to more time. Each time your child successfully manages to keep his or her mask in proper position on the face, you can offer a positive reward such as an extra 15 minutes of screen time or perhaps a snack or treat of their choice between healthy meals.
Allow the Child to Have a Say
Let kids pick out their own mask designs or colors. One perk of using masks in school is that kids will be able to come up with creative costume ideas along the lines of Halloween. There are pros and cons to this tactic, because perhaps on a busy day you may have forgotten to wash a certain mask and your child could possibly insist on wearing only one type of mask, such as a kitty cat face or other preferred design.
It will really depend on the personalities of your children as well as your parenting style whether you want to give kids the freedom of deciding what types of masks designs they are willing to wear. One modification of this tactic could be that you go out and purchase an assortment of masks appropriate for boys and girls and then give your children two choices of each mask that they might like to wear. Once every child has settled on a type of mask, you can then stock up on masks in bulk.
Some Places to Shop for Masks
- SewCalMasks.com — This company has a selection of mask colors and patterns. The masks can also use filters (available on the site) for additional protection.
- Walmart.com — There is a variety of medial masks as well as cloth masks to choose from.
- Fanatics.com — This company has masks for most sports teams — in case your child is a big sports fan.
Also check Etsy — there are many small shops personally making masks of all types.
Masks can be challenging adults so it will be more difficult to get many children to wear them without drama. It will be a process. But hopefully these tips can make it a little easier for you to protect your children and make their transition to face-to-face education safer — whenever it occurs.
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