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Preparing for preschool during a pandemic

Nothing about 2020 seems normal. People are all learning to adjust to a new way of life at home, in public or at work. The same can be said for children when they begin preschool in the fall. Preparing a child for a new normal when returning to school, will be essential to a successful year.

• Mask up

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends face coverings for anyone over the age of two. Should the preschool require masks or face coverings, help the child become comfortable with face coverings. Give kids time to practice wearing a masks daily. Teach them how to put them on and take them off. Encourage kids to select a mask that fits their personality or characters they follow. Children should have more than one mask available to them. Remember to wash the masks after they have come home.

• Combine math with social distancing

For younger children, teaching social distance can be difficult. To teach a child how far six feet is, first measure it out and mark it with masking tape. Find toys or sports equipment such as hula hoops and basketballs to determine how many of each a person would need to stretch six feet.

• Sanitize often

Make it a daily habit to wash hands regularly. Children and adults need to wash their hands before eating, touching their mouth, eyes or nose, touching a cut or scrape. Hands should also be washed after going to the bathroom, being on playground equipment or touching the garbage. If a family uses a hand sanitizer, be sure to use one that has a 60 percent or greater alcohol content.

• Return to learn plans

Like snowflakes, no two school districts or community-based preschools will have the same “return to learn” plan. People need to trust in the plan administrators have written, knowing that it was not easy to do. Have faith in their work and research to provide your child with the best learning environment possible. Practice patience when wanting questions answered…remember that educational leaders are charting new territories. Be kind, always.

• Respect other’s opinions

Parents are about to make some crucial decisions about the child’s education. There are more options for learning than parents have ever had before. School –homeschool — virtual school — hybrid school. Education has evolved. In all cases, remember these three words — You do you. Parents know what is best for a child and only they can decide what learning environment they succeed best in. Keep opinions to oneself and avoid judgment over others.

As an Early Childhood Board, Iowa River Valley wants to wish early learning programs in the Hardin and Marshall County health and success in the coming year.

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Carrie is a director for the Iowa River Valley

Early Childhood Area Board.

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