MARQUETTE, Mich., (WJMN) – Some schools are requiring children in grades 1 through 12 to wear a mask all day at school. Others are requiring masks only at certain times.
Kristen White, Assistant Professor of Education at Northern Michigan University, says children learn from their environment so setting a good example can help.
“I think setting an example when caretakers go to the store or anywhere that we’re out in public,” said White. “If we have our mask on, if we just talk about why we’re wearing it and how we’re wearing them to protect people in our community because it’s a way to show that you care about other humans.”
She also says that children make meaning through play, so incorporating masks into play can help children get used to them. Teachers and parents can use fabric or masks for play in several different ways.
“If I were a classroom teacher in first grade, which is a grade that I taught for a long time, I would have masks available for play,” said White. “I would allow children to have opportunities to maybe design their own mask or to you know there are patterns you can make masks without sewing so I might think about you know if you think about skills involved in that you know measurement, science, you can tie in a lot of the curriculum”
Teachers should also be patient and redirect a child if they are fidgetting with a mask according to White.
“Explain why we’re wearing them,” said White. “If you see a child tugging at it I think I wouldn’t say ‘don’t do that,’ I would focus on what they are doing well and how, you know, I really appreciate that they’re wearing their mask and although they might be hot or it’s bothering them I appreciate that they have it on.”
When asked how she thinks the changes in back-to-school procedures will affect children, White responded there are positives and negatives to every situation. She says that children are adaptable, resilient and that they’re learning a lot.
“I think there will be some effects from this, but at the same time I know that my kids are learning compassion, they’re learning empathy, and learning to do things for the good of the greater good of the community,” said White.
Some viewers have given tips on how they help their children wear a mask too. One viewer said he gets his child to wear a mask by telling them that superheroes wear their masks to save people so they can be a superhero by wearing a mask to protect others too. Another commented on Facebook that she and her children practice wearing masks at home to get used to them.