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Getting Ready for School in the New Normal

Getting ready for school was once about buying school supplies and clothes and getting a new haircut. If you had little kids, you’d prep for the first day of school picture, talk about who they think their new teacher would be, and how exciting it would be to make new friends. That’s not the case anymore.

Getting Ready for School in the Midst of COVID-19

These days, getting ready for school means talking with the kids about changes in the classroom, masks, social distancing, and how to make sure they stay clean and safe.

It’s a different world out there. Many parents are opting to homeschool for the coming year to keep their kids away from possible infection. However, if you have kids that are going back to school, it’s important to prepare them for the new normal and help them make good decisions to stay safe.

There are two main points to cover when it comes to getting ready for school in this new era. The first is how the classroom will change. The second is how behavior will change. It’s important to talk about both of these and all the aspects that go into them.

Getting Ready for School – Changes in the Classroom

One of the biggest changes that older kids will notice is in the classroom. If your children are older, they’ll remember the years of sitting in desks close together, yelling out answers, and passing school supplies back and forth. School is going to be a lot different this year.

Social Distancing

From desks to lunch lines, social distancing will be in full effect this year in all schools. It’s important to talk with the kids about this so they understand what to expect and why.

Be sure to let them know that the separation is for their own safety and that it should always be followed. Stress the importance of maintaining distance and not getting up to randomly walk over to their friends. Remember, keep it fact-based to limit the amount of apprehension your child will feel.


Many schools across the country will require the use of masks during school, as well. Getting ready for school and the new guidelines should always include a conversation about masks.

Be sure your kids know how to use them. Go over the importance of keeping the mask on at all times and being sure that it covers both their face and mouth. This means no taking it off to talk to other students or wearing it only over their mouth.

Touching the Face

Chronic face touchers of all ages can relate to how hard it is to stop touching that area of our bodies. However, it is vital to ensure safety. Talk with the kids about keeping their hands away from their faces, especially their eyes and their mask.

Try not to terrify them, but be sure they understand that touching their faces – or other children’s faces – can easily spread the virus.

Following Directions

Now more than ever, it is vital that children follow the directions given to them by the teachers and staff at their school. Teachers will most likely have at least a little training in safety procedures. It’s important that kids understand that the directions given to them during school hours are given to protect them and their friends.

Getting Ready for School – Changes in Behavior

Children are little germ factories. It’s a common saying that is 100% accurate. While it used to be funny, in the current world we live in, it’s dangerous. Getting ready for school means getting ready to be extra vigilant about hygiene and behavior.

Proper Handwashing

If you’ve ever seen a child wash their hands, especially a young child, you know they aren’t killing any bacteria. Teach your children the proper way to wash their hands and the amount of time they should do it. Proper handwashing takes about 20 to 30 seconds and involves washing all areas of the hand.

  • Sing the ABC song for proper handwashing time.
  • Wash the tops of the hands.
  • Wash the fingers by interlocking them and rubbing back and forth.
  • Grasp one thumb with the other hand and twist. Then repeat.
  • Put the tips of fingers together and scrub them against the palm of the other hand. Repeat.
  • Scrub the knuckles against the palm of the other hand. Repeat.
  • Rinse.

You can and should demonstrate the technique so the children have a visual aid to help them do it properly.

Don’t Share!

Unfortunately, getting ready for school these days means retracting one of the biggest lessons that we all try to teach our kids: sharing is caring. It’s not anymore in this world.

This year more than ever it is important to prevent the spread of germs in school Be sure to stress to your kids the importance of using only their own school supplies. It’s important that they understand that sharing supplies means sharing germs including the possible transmission of COVID-19.

To ensure my thumb sucker keeps her germs to herself I have created two separate bins and labeled both with their own design of Mabel’s Labels because I have OCD, and I am an organization nerd and feel the need to control what I can. 

By labeling all of my daughters belongings with Mabel’s labels I am doing my best to ensure she keeps her germs to herself.  So the first bin I created, contains her learning supplies scissors, glue sticks, colored pencils, flash cards, Gia’s water bottle with a silicone bottle band, etc. The second bin contains her Covid-19 supplies. Lysol disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and an extra mask. 

Let your children know that while they can’t share, it’s nice to just give a pencil or other supply to a child who needs it.

Hands to Yourself

Before this year, the idea of keeping your hands to yourself was one that was intended to prevent distraction during class time. Now it’s an important safety measure that every child should follow.

Just as with school supplies, stress that your children should never touch other children and that they should never allow themselves to be touched. This helps limit the spread of bacteria between students.

No Yelling

Much like keeping your hands to yourself, teaching the kids not to yell was originally intended to keep the classroom orderly. These days, it helps keep bacteria from spreading through the air.

Even with a mask on, yelling can still propel particulates through the air further than talking, so stress to the kids that they should always use their inside voices.

Covering Coughs and Sneezes

Although masks absolutely help decrease the spread of airborne droplets, they are not the total answer. Stress to your children that even while wearing a mask, they should continue to always cover their coughs or sneezes with the inside of their elbow to help reduce airborne particles.

Frequent Sanitizer Use

Whether it’s provided by the school or sent by you, hand sanitizer should always be available to the children. Be sure to stress the importance of using it frequently.

Go over points like using it after coughing or sneezing, picking up objects, coming back from lunch, or generally touching anything. Again, we don’t want to scare our children, but we do want them to understand how to be safe.

Getting Ready for School Means Lots of Conversation

Getting ready for school this year means a lot of conversation in addition to supplies. It’s important that we stress to our children that this year will be so much different than other years in certain aspects.

While talking about getting ready for school, we need to teach our kids how to be safe and why it’s so important to follow the rules, but we also need to reassure them that while some things have changed, the school will still be a fun, exciting time for them.

It’s a delicate balancing act, but it’s one that we can do. Good luck, parents!

Each child will have a different experience during the Covid 19 pandemic and each child will remember it differently. Inspired by other time capsules we have used I created a keepsake time capsule to share with you.

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