Illinois families will need to add face masks to the school supply shopping list. This pediatrician offers some strategies to help them adjust to wearing a mask.

Like any habits with kids, it really does start with the adults. They model all our behavior. If you are against wearing masks, the same will happen with your children. That won't be helpful in the fall when school is back in session. Our 4-year-old hadn't been inside any kind of store or restaurant since late March, until this week. She has tried on masks at home before and our hope was that she'd be just fine walking into the store. I'm happy to tell you that it went well. It was a short trip and she was back out of the mask within ten minutes. A school day is very different.

Our daughter will be starting school for the first time in just a little over a month. I'd be lying if I didn't say her mother and I have some anxiety over how school and face masks will go for her. We've had plenty of conversations with her about why wearing masks is important, but will that hold up for a whole school day? For a week, month or however long it will be required?

Cook County Health pediatrician, Dr. Rosibell Arcia, says the best place to start with our kids is to just start talking about it.

‘This is what’s going to happen. This is the way you are going to be able to go back to school.’ And most of the kids really, really wanting that, socializing with other friends and all that, so we have to explain how that is going to happen, and I think this is the right time to start.”

Dr. Arcia says it's important we keep building on this conversation over the summer. Being sure to explain expectations at school, but making sure we keep it short and simple. Include the dos and don'ts of how to wear a face mask.

Her biggest suggestion was to make it fun by creating, or decorating, a mask

“You can look for masks that include characters they like, maybe characters from books, they can use that type of fabric. You can make it personalized, maybe put their initials on it.”


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