TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Among a lengthy list of changes to the school year, a big transition for students will be wearing masks all day at school. Switching from enjoying a mask-free at home to being required to wear one all day at school can be tricky, but Janice Terry, a licensed certified social worker suggests parents get creative with their kids, “create a mask that your child can identify with. Whether it’s putting their name on it or having them decorate their mask with things they like to associate with.”
Terry also suggests practicing wearing them outside of school like for the duration of their favorite show on television or every time they’re in the car. Another way parents can help their younger students adjust is by making different facial expressions to show them what that looks like under a mask. “So much of their social learning and socialization comes from just reading facial cues and that’s really tough to do when you can’t see someone’s face,” says Keely Burks, a licensed professional counselor.
Burks says using positive language about wearing masks and the potential obstacles of the school year can show kids that this experience isn’t a bad one, just different, “we don’t want to say things are gonna be hard, bad or difficult. When we say that, they’re going into it expecting it to be hard, bad, and difficult.”
Both Terry and Burks agree that back-to-school anxiety is normal for students, but with the school year full of uncertainties, parents and students must establish good communication practices. Terry says her biggest piece of advice is, “to sit down and communicate with your child about what’s going on.”
Burks says it’s okay to acknowledge that the past months have been a traumatic experience for everyone, but “we have to remind ourselves as adults and as parents too, but certainly help remind our kids of how resilient they are.”