In the avalon region of the province, our K-6 students and teachers have been back in the classroom for two days at Alert 4 and I’m sure your child has already shared thoughts about a few regulations that they’re not so fond of. Wearing the mask all day is hard. No question about it. The continued restrictions regarding who your child can and cannot interact with at school, that’s hard too. Having yet another layer between them and their teachers (shields) is an additional challenge that has been thrown our way in 2021. These are not easy times to be a student.
So, what can we do to make this easier on our kids? It’s still early, but I’d like to share some tips from things that I’ve noticed over the last couple of days:
Send extra masks: Kids are getting anxious about losing their masks at school because even the little ones know it’s important to wear one right now. By having a couple of spares in their bookbag, students can breathe a little easier knowing that if one gets wet, dirty or lost, they have another one ready to go.
Send snack and lunch items that your child can open without assistance: Of course, your child’s teacher will help them if they can’t open something themselves, but we want to do our best to reduce contact whenever possible and sending containers that your child can access on their own helps with that.
Understand that your child will likely be more tired than usual when they come home: They’re trying to remember to wear their mask, keep their distance from friends and resist the urge to touch everything around them (which is fairly strong!). They may have gotten into good habits earlier in the school year, but it’s been a month since they’ve been in the classroom and keeping those rules in mind will take a lot of work and energy over the next little while. If possible, keep your evenings low-key to give everyone time to recharge.
Try to avoid referring to them as being “behind” because of the lockdown: I know this is scary and you really are afraid that your child is behind, but remember, the whole province is in the same boat, so are they really behind? It will be the school board’s job to determine if and how the curriculum may need to be adjusted in order to accommodate for the interruption of in-person learning. Let’s not put that on our kids. It’s not their job to figure out this problem.
We all need a mental health day from time to time. Our kids aren’t any different: I get it, the last thing you want to do is keep your child home from school when they’ve already missed so much time. If they’re showing signs of exhaustion and stress, however, a mental health morning or day, may help them focus better for the rest of the week. I’m not saying let them stay home whenever they don’t feel like going to school, but when your child is trying to tell you that they really need a break, it’s important to listen.
There’s no doubt about it, school looks very different today than it did a couple of years ago. But remember, your child’s teacher still loves them and will be doing everything in their power over the next few months to ensure that they thrive. Keep the lines of communication open, talk to your classroom teacher about how you and your child are feeling. This pandemic can help your child develop resilience, perseverance and problem solving skills that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to acquire this young. By supporting our kids and their teachers, we can all come out of this stronger.
Mme Michelle is an Instructional Resource Teacher in St. John’s, Newfoundland and is passionate about helping students with diverse needs thrive at school and in the real world. She started French For Life in 2012 with the goal of helping French Immersion students get the support they need to become bilingual, despite academic challenges. Interested in learning more about French For Life virtual or in-person tutoring? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.