With the recent announcement of return-to-school plans many children and parents are feeling a heightened amount of stress during this uncertain time. A teacher, a parenting coach and a doctor gave some helpful suggestions for you to help your child prepare for September. >> Read part 1 of this 2-part series.
6 ways to prepare for back-to school during COVID-19
7. Practice yoga
Yoga has so many benefits. Doing yoga with your child invites a deeper connection and accesses the calming centres of the brain to reduce stress and anxiety in children. It helps children healthily process difficult feelings, so back to school worries can be expressed and acknowledged, which kids definitely appreciate.
8. Create a Yoga Mind Jar
This is a great tool to use when your child is feeling angry, sad, worried or over-excited. You can make your own jar at home with a few simple supplies. You need hot water, glitter glue, food colouring, sparkles and a plastic bottle.
Steps to creating your own jar:
1. Remove the label off of the bottle (a small pop bottle will work)
2. Squeeze a few blobs of glitter glue into the bottle
3. Pour some glitter in
4. Add a few drops of food colouring
5. Add hot water (with an adults help)
6. Put on lid and shake it
Shake up the mind jar and watch the sparkles swirl as you practice deep ocean breathing (in through your nose and out through your mouth) and feel your body relax and calm down.
Here is a video with detailed instructions:
9. Talk to your children
Advice from a family doctor (Dr. Rachel Skocylas, MD at 1Clinic, Toronto)
It’s so important to take the time to talk to your children about any fears or anxiety they have about going to school and normalize the fact that they might feel anxious. Encourage them to express and verbalize how they are feeling and offer lots of reassurance.
Let them know that they are unlikely to get sick, but they still need to take all of the appropriate precautions to protect themselves. Help them feel empowered and reinforce all the ways they can keep themselves healthy – frequent hand washing, wiping down surfaces at school and practicing social distancing.
10. Change your thinking
Remind yourself that studies have shown children are far less likely to contract COVID-19 and if they do, it is rare that they experience significant symptoms. It is important to recognize that there are negative consequences of long term school closures on a child’s physical health, developmental health, mental health and learning.
Many experts have given input and the general consensus is that these negative consequences far outweigh the benefits from keeping schools closed. With this in mind, try to change your thinking — rather than focusing on the risk of exposure, emphasize all the benefits that attending school in person will offer your child.
11. Don’t panic
Remember this — children are expected to get coughs and colds. When your child comes home with a sniffly nose, don’t let yourself go into panic mode.
12. Tips to focus on health
Quality sleep is important for immune system function — depending on the age, children need between 10-14 hours of sleep per day.
Focus on giving your children a minimally processed diet consisting of mainly whole foods such as colourful fruits and vegetables — choose fruits that are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants such as oranges and blueberries and green leafy vegetables. This will provide an abundance of nutrients that support their ability to fight off infections.
Ensure that their routine immunizations are up to date to protect them from other infections besides COVID-19.
Lastly, encourage them to practice gratitude on a daily basis – teaching children to focus on the good can help enforce a positive mindset and build resilience, and might even boost their immune system.
Kera is a full-time mom with three kids. She lives in the suburbs of Vancouver and recently started Kids Cuddles Coffee, a ‘mommy-news’ blog. She loves going on adventures with her kids all over the Lower Mainland. She has a passion for writing and the news. Before becoming a mom she worked at CBC radio and at a local newspaper. Follow her on Instagram @kidscuddlescoffee