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Tips for your child’s virtual learning, from medical professionals

Avondale Estates Decatur Kirkwood Metro ATL Tucker

Tips for your child’s virtual learning, from medical professionals

FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: Lauren Prather, 16, a high school junior in unincorporated DeKalb County took her computer outside to do some work April 23. She said studying at home is not as good as going to school and she misses her friends. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA — This year’s back-to-school season is different from any we’ve seen before.

Dekalb County Schools and City Schools of Decatur are starting the year with virtual learning on Aug. 17. Whether your child is getting ready for virtual kindergarten, grade school, or high school, here are some tips from medical professionals on how to make the transition into the remote school year as smooth as possible.

Strong4Life at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has put together a list of tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy this school year. Dr. Stephanie Walsh, a medical director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine, also provided advice.

Set up a routine

Routines are helpful to everyone, whether you’re attending school from home or working from home.

Getting on a good sleep schedule will help you and your children develop a routine and stay healthy. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. If your child (or teenager) has developed a more spontaneous sleep schedule during the summer or quarantine period, remember that it will take a few weeks to change sleeping habits.

Try to have family dinners often. This gives you a chance to connect as a family, away from screens, and can also help develop a routine.

Encourage and demonstrate healthy habits 

Drink plenty of water, and eat fruits and veggies as part of snacks and meals daily.

Be active for at least an hour each day, whether that’s going for a walk in your neighborhood or at a local park, riding bikes, or doing something indoors, like yoga.

Power down electronics an hour before bedtime, and keep screens out of the bedroom.

Mental health and socialization 

When dealing with virtual schooling during a pandemic, remember that you’re doing the best you can. Go easy on yourself and your children.

Expect that each day may not go according to plan, and be flexible and willing to adjust to changes.

For many parents, a significant concern is making sure their children still socialize with other kids during this time.

Dr. Walsh says to encourage interaction, even if it’s virtual, and that any in-person socialization should take place outdoors, where the risk of transmission of the virus is lower.

Additionally, the pandemic can cause fear and anxiety in kids.

“We like to use the term ‘new normal,’ but if something’s new, it can’t be normal,” says Dr. Walsh. She noted that the term can be especially difficult for younger children to understand.

When talking to your kids about the pandemic, validate their feelings, avoid minimizing their concerns, and ask open-ended questions. Correct any misinformation they may have heard.

Masks and social distancing 

Dr. Walsh says parents often ask what kind of mask is best for their kids. The answer to that, she says, is “whatever mask they’ll keep on.”

CHOA is also encouraging families to remember “the three W’s” — wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

For more back-to-school tips, visit Strong 4 Life’s website at http://www.strong4life.com/reopening.

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