You’ve probably introduced your kids to mask-wearing by now. (And they probably hate it, because we all hate it, but you’ve explained why they need to wear it, etc.) Most kids preschool-age and older have been doing a bit of mask-wearing here or there — when you take them for an ice cream cone or during an early morning trip to the playground. But your kids are going to have to get used to wearing masks for longer periods of time indoors. And the time to start practicing is now, at home.
If you send kids on their merry way on the first day of school and the longest they’ve worn a mask before was a mere 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch, they’ll be in a world of hurt by mid-morning. Nobody wants to be masked for the majority of a 6- or 7-hour school day, but it’ll be a little easier to pull off if they’ve got at least some experience with sustained wear.
So if you haven’t already, now is a good time to get your kids more intimately acquainted with their masks. One way to start? Tie mask-wearing to screen time. They want to watch a 30-minute show? OK, as long as you practice wearing your mask the whole time! Want to play Minecraft with your friends for an hour? Sure, grab your mask!
Kids likely want screen time more than they don’t want to wear a mask, so that’s a good place to start. Of course, they have to get used to wearing it during non-screen-based activities, too. So once they’ve become acclimated to wearing it during TV or tablet time, add in other “mask times” throughout the day, such as when you play a board game together after dinner or while you read to them at bedtime (you can encourage them by wearing one, too).
While they wear their mask, make sure to check they’re wearing it properly — covering both their nose and mouth — and fiddling with it as little as possible. If they touch the front of it or take it off to readjust it, direct them to wash their hands. Enough hand-washes may help drive home the point that once the mask is on, we leave it alone. (Their teacher will be grateful for one less kid to have to constantly correct on this point.)
It’s not necessary for them to wear masks all day long at home in the lead-up to the start of the school year, but it’s a good idea to get some solid practice in now so they’re less distracted by the discomfort of the mask when they enter into a school year that will already look and feel drastically different in so many other ways.