As a retired school teacher, with a few decades of classroom experience, I am in awe of the teachers and parents caring for our youngest learners during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know careful, and well-thought-out safety measures are being taken by caregivers to ensure the well-being of our precious children. I also know it will not be much longer until the state moves to implement in-person learning.
Right now, however, both small and significant changes are being discussed and planned by educators and families. Whether it’s a teacher, provider, or family member, adults must create a safe and happy environment for children despite the current times.
Adults should lead by example by adhering to the state’s mandates, including wearing a mask and social distancing. Children see us donning masks in public places. They know whether we’re complaining, or if we view the masks as a safety measure to protect our love ones.
In the book “A Mask for Rita,” a young girl announces to her classmates that her mask is decorated with ice cream cones, strawberry in particular because it’s her favorite flavor. She goes on to explain that she thinks ice cream is cool. Jamal, on the other hand, wanted to bring his teddy bear to school, but his dad said it needs to stay home on his bed. Thank goodness for Jamal that his mask features teddy bears.
While showing off her mask, another character in the book, Kelsey tells her classmates, “My mask matches my glasses, and orange makes me think of pumpkin pie.” The story also includes a teacher who “smiles with her eyes” and sometimes winks while wearing her mask.
Children will relate to the characters in “A Mask for Rita.” The book promotes simple conversations with children as they transition back to school safely. Most of the teachers that I know often use the phrase, “I have a book for that.” “A Mask for Rita” is a book that provides excellent examples of how to be creative and have fun with wearing masks. Let’s try doing it with smiling eyes.