9 ways to help your child adjust to new school rules

Kalee Beal, CARE program manager at Heartspring, has tips for parents as they prepare their kids for new expectations at school.
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 3:11 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas schools are set to begin within the next month. Many districts are requiring that students wear masks. It’s not easy for all kids to do. Heartspring required kids to wear masks this summer and is familiar with the struggle. Districts are also limiting shared supplies, which could be a hard adjustment for some kids. Kalee Beal, CARE program manager at Heartspring, has tips for parents as they prepare their kids for new expectations at school.

  1. Parents should model good mask behavior. Beal says if adults wear masks properly around kids, kids will learn from the adults.
  2. Tell your kids why they have to wear a mask. Using age-appropriate language, Beal suggests explaining that masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 germs.
  3. Let your kids pick out their mask. Adults like having choices, and so do kids. When you go shopping for school supplies and a new backpack, Beal says parents should let their kids choose a mask they want to wear.
  4. Use social stories and online resources.
  5. Have your kids practice wearing a mask. "Maybe we just wear it for 10 seconds, then we take it off. Wear it for a minute next time, then five minutes," Beal said.
  6. Reinforce positive behavior. Praise your children when they do the right thing. "Making sure every time your kid reaches a new step, you're reinforcing it. I know a lot of parents are using candy, toys and different things, but really you could use anything that's reinforcing to your child," she said.
  7. Engage in parallel play. To help your kids adjust to the new non-sharing rules, color a picture with your child and explain to them they can only use their crayons and you will use yours. "Maybe if your kid has not snatched the crayon be like 'I love how you're playing with just your crayons. Do you want to go get a skittle? or 'I love how you have not touched my crayons. Let's go do something fun that you chose,'" Beal said. "So just paying attention to that appropriate behavior and only reinforcing that."
  8. Talk to your child's teacher. Ask what the new expectations are for your child's classroom. Start using those rules at home to help your child adjust. Ask the teacher if they will use certain words or phrases to explain mask-wearing or any of the new rules. Using those words and phrases at home will keep things consistent for when your child returns to school.
  9. Use online resources. Heartspring offers online resources such as social stories and videos to share with your kids to help them understand why they will have new expectations when they return to school.

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