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BACK TO SCHOOL: Mayo Clinic pediatrician provides tips to help parents get kids prepared for returning to the classroom

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- We all know going back to school this year is going to look and feel different.

As many of our young ones are set to return to the classroom, doctors say it's important for parents to prepare for the changes and challenges that lie ahead.

The most important tip for parents is to have a conversation with their kids and prepare them for what changes they may expect and be there to answer any questions.

Regardless of the learning style you begin the school year with, health officials recommend preparing your child for things to change. So, how do you start that conversation?

"Starting with the, 'you know school is coming up and we're going to be going back to school this year' and explaining to them what might be different about school and the really important things they can do to stay safe, so you are empowering your child," said Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center.

Some of those differences might be how their classroom is set up or changes to what lunch time will look like.

"And then after you've explained what you need to explain to them, just asking them 'what questions do you have, how can I help answer these questions.'," Mattke said. "And if you don't know how to answer, it's okay to say 'I don't know, but we're going to figure that out together and talk to your teacher or other people to help answer those concerns or questions'."

Mattke recommends kids always have an extra mask stored in a plastic bag kept in their desk or backpack.

Another important tip; send your child to school with hand sanitizer so they can sanitize frequently throughout the day.

"Other things parents should start talking about, especially with younger kids if they haven't had much Spencerian wearing masks, is starting to prepare them to wear their masks because they are going to need to be wearing them for a long period of time," Mattke said. "And you need to teach them how to properly wear them and how to make sure they are fitting correctly and they're not touching their face."

Mattke said kids are incredibly adaptable and suggests to practice what social distancing looks like and safe hygiene measures.

"Younger kids might do better if they are able to practice with a stuffed animal or a beloved doll, where they can put the mask on their doll and practice taking it off and putting them on effectively," Mattke said. "And they can practice their hand washing."

Mattke explained one more important thing to do before school starts; make sure your kids are up-to-date on their immunizations and get their flu shots this fall.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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