LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — More students, more teachers. Thousands of valley kids will make their return to the classroom next week. For many, it marks the first in-person learning in more than a year. But before that happens, there's a conversation we need to be having with our kids. 13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean picks up some important safety advice from a local expert.
STRESSFUL FOR CHILDREN
Wear a mask. Stay at least 6 feet away from others. Avoid crowds. Wash your hands. We've heard it all when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. It's stressful for adults and it's stressful for children.
"We could definitely see the kids were worried at the beginning," said Las Vegas mom Sarah Evans.
She says it's been especially tough for her son.
DIDN'T FEEL SAFE
"It got to the point if we even, with our masks, went by the park, he'd say mom there are too many kids here. We should go home," Evans said.
Kash, 9, admits he didn't feel safe at first.
"I was scared that I was going to get COVID-19," he said.
HAVE A CONVERSATION
Now after a year of virtual learning, Kash and thousands of other valley students are heading back to school. So are they ready? School Psychology Expert Dr. Katherine Lee says it's important to have a conversation.
"I think in general we have to convey that this is a good thing. That it's positive. It's learning. It's seeing your friends. It's back to some sort of normalcy," Lee said.
VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
She says, be sure to acknowledge and validate your child's feelings. Then emphasize by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing their hands while at school, they hold the power to staying safe.
"We don't want them to worry about things that are out of their control. We want them to focus on things that are in their control," Lee said.
If they start feeling completely overwhelmed in the classroom, Lee says to remind them to breathe.
"If they need to take breathing breaks, if they're starting to feel that way, to raise their hand and let the teacher know. They can go to a safe space," Lee said.
She says don't be afraid to role play. Show your kids, even mom and dad can feel the weight of it all.
"You know I'm feeling a little stressed out. Say, maybe I need a little break. Let me just stop for five minutes. Let's breathe together," Lee said.
SAY 'I LOVE YOU'
Finally, remind your child no matter what, you're there for them.
"I think the most important message for parents to send their kids is, I love you. I'll see you at the end of the day," Lee said.
And Evans says that's exactly what she's communicating with her own kids.
IT'S TIME TO GO BACK
"We've asked so much of him this past year. When he goes back to school I think he's just going to light up... at the end of the day we can be scared of one million things but it's time to get back and I think they're all ready," Evans said.
Kash says he is ready and he's counting down the days until he sees his teacher.
"I'm really excited to see my classmates in person and I'm really excited to not have to do online," he said.