Cross-Cultural Celebrations at Tessa

UN Day, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Diwali… These past few weeks have been rich in celebrations! At Tessa International School, our students and teachers come from more than 50 different cultures and carry with them even more international backgrounds. Students come to class with their own unique cultures, traditions and languages. We, as educators, work to develop curriculum and practices that meet the needs of our diverse student populations. As our students learn more about themselves and the world around them, they come to understand what makes people the same—we are all human beings with the same basic needs and feelings—as well as what makes us different and contributes to diversity—such as traditions, skin color, foods and special practices.

 

We encourage our students to accept and celebrate differences all year long by celebrating their classmates’ traditions and creating an inclusive classroom. This week at Tessa was dedicated to Diwali. Our  parents came to school to celebrate and introduce the festival to the students. They created a beautiful display in the hallway, read stories, brought food, and organized crafts in the classrooms. Our teachers also studied the festival with the children: Diwali is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. 

Self-awareness in children begins to develop when they first start to distinguish between what is “me” and what is “not me.” Around the age of two, children begin to recognize physical differences and colors, applying what they’re learning to themselves and others. Over time, they become more aware of physical differences and go from questioning how people get different features—and wondering if they’ll change—to understanding that racial and cultural identity doesn’t change; it makes them a part of a larger group with similar characteristics.

 

As racial and cultural awareness develops in students, they gain a better understanding of how all of us can be (and indeed are) part of many groups, including various races, families, communities, cultures, regions and religions. 

 

At Tessa we encourage our students to celebrate the different cultures represented in the classroom and get them excited to explore these differences. Students seeing their own culture or the cultures of their peers represented in the classroom helps promote a deeper understanding of diversity through a collection of multicultural resources (books, toys, crafts etc.). 

Holiday celebrations are wonderful opportunities for students to learn about the beliefs, traditions and values that are important around the world. At Tessa we celebrate Chinese New Year; Diwal,Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, Day of the Dead and more.

 

There are so many ways to celebrate diversity in the classroom! For United Nations Day, students dressed in clothing representing cultures they relate to or like. We organize show and tell, where students bring and present artifacts from their culture to the classroom. We celebrate U.S. cultures too! We help children to realize that people from countries outside the United States have cultural celebrations. UN Day, Halloween, and  Thanksgiving are important opportunities to underscore that we all have cultures.

 

Our parents sometimes join a classroom to present a tradition to the students, and organize a themed activity. Music, crafts and storytelling are all great ways to study cultures. 

One of the greatest reasons for us to observe all these traditions at Tessa is the opportunity it offers students, teachers, and families to encounter one another in celebration of what we all bring to the table. It’s an occasion to have fun while strengthening the academic connections to students’ knowledge, background experiences, and ways of viewing the world. 

10 Reasons You Should Choose Chinese Immersion For Your Children

Why encourage your child to learn Chinese? Research shows learning other languages has cognitive and cultural benefits on developing minds. It also strengthens our sense of global awareness and unity, in and outside the classroom! Each language has its own unique benefits, and Mandarin’s are numerous. Some believe that learning Chinese is one of the best investments you can make! 

 

1/Chinese is the native language for 20% of the world’s population

Learning Chinese creates an immediate connection between your child and 1/5 of the world’s population.  That’s amazing!  Even if you have no plans to set foot in a Chinese-speaking country any time soon, there are nearly 50 million Chinese who live outside of China.

 

2/Chinese isn’t phonics based.  Learning it is memory-intensive

Kids have the best memory capacities in the world.  The Chinese language isn’t phonics-based so you can’t learn a small set of alphabets/sounds and be able to read the language.  It’s all memorization so the sooner your kids start, the better. Learning Chinese will strongly develop your child’s memorization skills. 

 

3/ Chinese will give English-speaking children a different paradigm for thinking

Languages affect the way we think, and therefore our perspectives.  Giving kids a different language, particularly one so different from their native tongue, means we are also giving them a different paradigm for thinking.  Bilingual kids are more likely to see things from different perspectives.  They are more likely to be emphatic with others.

 

4/ Learning the Chinese language is the prerequisite for learning the Chinese culture and history

Language shapes our cultures.  For example the Japanese/Korean language retains its various forms of politeness, which reinforces the hierarchical order in their societies.  Asian languages tend to be more subtle while the English language is much more direct.  To really learn a culture (and Chinese is an interesting one), learning the language is a must.

 

5/ Learning Chinese will be a career advantage

Career advantages for learning Chinese are numerous.  The ability to communicate to over one billion people has major value in the job marketplace. Of course, this includes companies in China and other Mandarin speaking countries. But companies all around the world are striving to tap into the Chinese marketplace, and you’ll immediately differentiate yourself if you can speak Mandarin.

 

6/ It’s really an art class

Chinese characters are made up of multiple components that fit together to create meaning and pronunciation. As children will mostly be learning pictographs and characters that have clearer visual meaning, characters become mini pictures. This can make learning characters a lot more fun and easier for children to both remember the characters by creating stories and writing by constructing pictures for each one. 

 

7/ Your child will become bilingual in Chinese in a way they never could have otherwise

Immersion is the most efficient (and some would say the only) way to gain fluency in a target language, and Mandarin Chinese is no exception. The Chinese language is often considered one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn, but this sentiment is a major oversimplification. Like any language, learning Chinese has its challenges. Placing your child in an ideal learning environment is key to learning Chinese. 

 

8/ Mandarin contributes to developing stronger Math skills

Yes, there is actually a scientific correlation between learning Mandarin and improved mathematical ability. Scientists theorize that because Mandarin representation of numbers is less abstract than Arabic numbers, and because the act of practicing handwriting requires repeated counting, young children gain greater familiarity with math and with numeric thinking. In learning Mandarin, the mathematical concepts are integral to the language fluency, and not a separate subject activating a different part of the brain.

 

Because Mandarin Chinese involves learning language, sounds, drawing, and math all at once, it activates more regions of the brain and improves cognitive development overall, even in adults. In fact, speakers of Mandarin use more of their brain more of the time, unlike English speakers who tend to alternate between left and right hemispheres. In theory, this more balanced brain could lead to greater overall creativity, enhanced problem-solving, and increased emotional intelligence.

 

9/ Mandarin helps having a better interpretation of symbols

Since Mandarin writing relies on thousands of characters, learners of Mandarin Chinese have to read and interpret a vast number of visual symbols, activating more regions of the brain than English, which relies on a phonetic alphabet. Through learning Mandarin, children can become more adept at visual communication, more readily interpreting symbols in visual art and understanding nuances in symbolism and visual communication.

 

10/ Speaking Mandarin may offer kids a musical edge

Kids who speak Mandarin may outperform kids who speak English in at least one aspect of musical ability — perceiving pitch. Pitch refers to how high or low a sound’s frequency is. In tonal languages, such as Mandarin, pitch is very important. These languages use different pitch patterns to give meaning to words.

 

Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

Navigating School Safety During COVID-19

As we move closer to our 7th month of school during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are settled in (as much as can be expected) to a new set of health and safety protocols that were introduced at the start of the school year. Now, with vaccinations beginning to roll out, our school communities have begun wondering how these safety protocols may be changing or what they can do to continue keeping families safe as we continue to navigate through this pandemic. As a refresher, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to maintain student and school safety during COVID-19.

COVID-19 School Safety

By now, we’ve all become accustomed to the school safety requirements that have come about over the course of the past year. We have become pros at hand-washing, mask wearing, coughing in our elbows, social distancing, and vigilantly keeping an eye on our health symptoms. We know to keep ourselves, and our family members, home from work or school if we show any signs of possible infection such as:

  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Coughing and/or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Sore throat

Following the recommended safety guidelines and knowing the symptoms to watch for are the best ways to arm ourselves and our families against infection. But now that we are seeing vaccinations being rolled out, have the guidelines changed? Should we be practicing different safety protocols now?

Maintaining Safe Health Protocols

While we may be tempted to begin loosening our safety protocols as vaccinations become more dispersed, it’s important to understand we need to continue our same level of precautionary measures until they have been updated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and any additional local/school guidelines. In short, keep doing what you’ve been doing for the past several months in order to help us navigate through the pandemic.

Here at Tessa International, this means our staff and students/families will continue to follow our rigorous guidelines to keep everyone safe. This means, we will continue to:

  • Utilize staggered drop offs, pickups, and recess times for students
  • Limit building access to staff and students whenever possible
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Proper hand-washing and sanitizing at regular intervals and as needed
  • Mask wearing required for kindergarten and up, strongly encouraged for nursery and pre-k
  • Keep using indoor shoes or slippers
  • Toy and play items regularly disinfected as needed throughout the day
  • Daily professional deep cleaning of all areas
  • Use designated play areas only – non-Tessa-owned play equipment will not be used

Student Safety through the End of the Pandemic

We are extremely proud of our students, staff, and community members who have all pulled together to help navigate this health pandemic. Everyone has done a wonderful job putting health and safety first and limiting the risks of being exposed to COVID-19. We will continue to update you as we progress through the year and new developments come about. Keep up the good work, Tessa families!

5 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe During Their Return to the Classroom

5 Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe During Their Return to the Classroom

By now, you’ve likely done your due diligence researching the health and safety guidelines for our children’s return to the classroom. You know how and when to handle modified drop offs and pickups. You know to monitor your child’s health and keep up with doctor visits and immunizations. The list of new safety guidelines may seem endless, but they are necessary. So how do we go about easing the stress they may put on children as they return to the classroom?

How to Ease the Return to the Classroom

Though it may seem like a lot to take in, there are a few things parents can do to help prepare their children for the first day of post-pandemic school. By helping children understand what to expect, it will normalize the new routines and simplify the entire process. Here are 5 tips to help ease the transition safely:

1 – Remain Positive

Children pick up on our emotions and feelings, even if we don’t express them verbally in front of them. The best way to help children remain positive about the new practices they’ll be facing, is by remaining positive ourselves. Be aware of what we are saying (both verbally and non-verbally) and try to focus on the positives.

2 – Practice Hygiene Routines at Home

This is something you’ve likely been doing already but stressing the importance of proper hygiene at home will help children continue to do so at school. Get them in the habit of washing their hands at least once an hour as well as utilizing hand sanitizer and being mindful of keeping their hands away from their faces.

3 – Make a Practice Run to School

It’s one thing to explain a new school drop off or pickup routine to your children, but it’s quite another to experience it. Children often learn best by actively participating in something versus simply being told, so it can be greatly beneficial to try a practice run to school before the first day. This can help them better visualize what to expect when they arrive on the first day.

4 – Keep Open Communication About What’s to Come

Another crucial element to easing the transition back to school is to keep an open line of communication with children as well as school administration. Knowing what the specific guidelines and protocol will be and effectively helping our children understand them through open communication is key to normalizing the new routines.

5 – Get in the Routine Ahead of Time

Lastly, as with every school year in the past, transitioning back to school routines can be tough if kids are not prepared. This year should be treated no different on that aspect. Help children be ready on the first day of school by getting them in the habit of school day routines well in advance. Help them by regulating bedtimes, morning processes, and having schedules in place.

Despite the uncertainties that may be felt about the reopening of schools, we can help our children be safe and prepared by our actions and our communication efforts. Be the example and prepare them for a healthy return to the classroom!

Preparing for the Return to School in the Wake of COVID-19

Preparing for the Return to School in the Wake of COVID-19

While area schools set COVID-19 safety plans into effect for the official return to the classroom in the next few weeks, many parents are wondering what safeguards they should be putting into place as well. Since keeping our children, staff, and family members healthy during this unprecedented pandemic is the highest priority of our community, we certainly want to make sure we are all doing our part to ensure the safety of everyone upon our return to school.

Preparing Your Family for the Return to School

With the beginning of the new school year upon us, families have been filled with questions regarding how education administrators are planning to keep them safe in the wake of COVID-19. After several months of being away from the traditional classrooms, the return seems to carry a degree of uncertainty among families as we all work to safeguard our community from the spread of illness.

The best way to ensure the health and well-being of students and staff this school year is by staying informed of all guidelines and protocol as well as preparing ourselves for the new norms. School functions may look a bit different this year, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be scary or uncertain for our communities. There are several things families can do to help wane any animosity and keep the return to the classroom an exciting time for everyone.

Understanding State and Local Guidelines

The first step in preparing for the new school year is to familiarize yourself and your family members with the local and state regulations regarding safety in school settings. By knowing the legal health and safety requirements placed on all New Jersey childcare facilities and schools by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), we can begin to understand the extensive precautions being taken to ensure the safety of staff and students.

At the state level, schools are required to abide by strict COVID-19 safety protocols in order to remain open for in-person teachings this fall. These health measures include things like:

  • Daily body temperature monitoring of all who enter the facility
  • Classroom sizes are limited to no more than 10 students
  • Face masks are required for all staff members
  • Extensive sanitization and disinfectant cleaning routines by staff and students
  • Completion of proper daily licensing log for the DCF to retain program eligibility

Preparing for School Safety Regulations

Once you have familiarized your family with the DCF requirements for a safe return to the classroom, the next step is to understand any additional protocol implemented by the school administration. Since many schools are opting to include more extensive health and safety regulations, it’s important to know what to expect before the first day of class.

At Tessa International, we have carefully considered the most efficient ways to ensure the safety of our students and staff and are already utilizing our On-Site Safety Measure Considerations that have been put into place for all summer programs as well as the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Among the new protocols, families should prepare for the return with the following requirements:

  • Staff are required to test for COVID-19 prior to the start of the school year. Students are urged (but not required) to do the same.
  • Ensure all children are current with their physical health screenings and immunizations.
  • Have all emergency medical and personal forms filled out in detail, including contact information in the event of sudden illness.
  • Help children prepare for daily body temperature checks and health screenings by getting them used to this at home.
  • Normalize frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer at home – this will be a frequent occurrence during the school year.

Your 2020 School Supply Shopping List Additions

With the introduction of new health and safety procedures this year, it goes without saying there will be additional school supplies in order to perpetuate these sanitization efforts. In addition to the usual school supply items, families may be asked to provide items such as:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Surface disinfecting products
  • Gloves
  • Facemasks

Many schools may need help keeping up with essential sanitization and safety items, so it is possible you will see these items added to their list. As always, however, it’s best to check with school officials for a complete list of necessary supplies prior to the start of class to ensure your child is safely prepared for the first day.

Helping Kids Learn to Practice Healthy Germ Fighting Habits

One of the best ways families can prepare for the new year is by devoting time to helping children better understand what the changes will be and what is expected of them. By helping to normalize routines like frequent hand washing, using sanitizers, regular surface sanitizing regimens, and keeping safe distances from others, parents can help lessen any animosity they may face on the first day of class.

If you’re looking for ways to help your child ease into the new regulations, here are a few tips for parents to try:

  • Practice hourly handwashing at home – more frequently as needed.
  • Allow children to use child-safe cleaning and sanitization products on home surfaces after using them.
  • Have children wear masks at home to enable them to get used to having them on during school.

Community Safety Commitment to School

While the current public health state has caused a great deal of change for our global communities, it has also shone light on our abilities to band together – even at a distance – and persevere. Our commitment to not only the health of our own families, but those of our friends, neighbors, and fellow community members, is what will help us not just pull through this pandemic but come out with a greater understanding and respect for all. Welcome back!

Preparing for School During the Pandemic: How to Plan Ahead

Preparing for School During the Pandemic: How to Plan Ahead

With so many uncertainties about the upcoming school year, many families are full of questions and wondering what’s in store for their children this fall. While government officials and school administrations work to hash out exactly what the next school year is going to look like in the wake of COVID-19, rest assured, there are ways parents can begin preparing for school during the pandemic.

Preparing for School During the Pandemic

As we begin to open up dialogues with our children regarding their return to the classroom this fall after an extended distance learning session and summer break, many parents will likely be faced with a montage of questions. Trying to outline just what this next school year will bring is a tricky subject since there are still so many unknowns, but one of the most important aspects is to remain flexible and understanding of change.

Our upcoming school year will most certainly not look like any previous years and that can cause a bit of confusion and anxiety for children. As parents, the best way to prepare our children for these changes is by making them aware of them in advance and by practicing what this may look like at home in order to help them get used to certain health and safety requirements that will surely be part of their new routine.

Tips to Keep Kids Safe Upon Their Return to School

Upon their return to school, kids will be faced with many new policies and routines that will likely take some getting used to. To help ease this transition, there are a few things parents can do to help keep their children safe as well as prepare them for the changes ahead:

  • Practice frequent hand washing. Your child should be aware of the importance for frequent hand washing as well as practice making a conscious effort not to touch communal items unless absolutely necessary.
  • Prepare them for the 6 feet rule. Most classrooms will be practicing the 6 feet rule, meaning desks will likely be spaced further apart than they may be used to. Let children know not to attempt to move closer and the reasons for the distance.
  • Participate in cleaning and disinfecting stations. Make your children aware of the importance of keeping items clean and sanitized and prepare them to help their school administrators with these tasks if asked to do so.
  • Get them used to PPE. Most of us are more than familiar with using personal protection equipment (PPE) by now, but since it will likely be a requirement for children this fall, it’s a good idea to get children used to the practice as well, if not already.

Preparing for School Changes

Knowing to expect a great deal of changes this school year is half the battle with preparing children for the break from the norm. Be sure to keep your children in the loop of the new changes as things develop closer to the first day of school – this way they have time to adjust without being thrown into an unfamiliar school situation from day one.

Covid-19 Summer Safety: Healthy Family Tips for Warm Weather Activities

Covid-19 Summer Safety: Healthy Family Tips for Warm Weather Activities

As we navigate our way through the warmer months in the midst of Covid-19, many families are wondering how to keep safe while still getting out to try and enjoy the season. Some local organizations are beginning to open their doors again and residents are seeing activity opportunities pop up once again – but are they safe? Navigating Covid-19 summer safety can bring with it a slew of questions, so knowing how to safely participate in some of your favorite warmer month family activities is the best way to ease your concerns in the wake of the pandemic.

Understanding the Basics of Covid-19 Summer Safety

You may notice some of your family’s favorite local businesses and locations starting to resume activities and programs for children in your area. Many local fun spots are trying to find innovative ways to continue to supply our communities with our favorite activities while remaining vigilant about public health and safety. With so many things beginning to open up, it raises the question, how do we know what is safe and what to avoid? How do we keep our families safe but still allow for some play time outside of the home?

As a general rule, your first step for keeping your family safe as things open up is to check all local guidelines and regulations. Look to see what the CDC and public health officials recommend for public interactions to ensure you’re approaching each situation appropriately. From there, it’s also good to speak with personnel in charge of the area you’re looking to visit so you understand any additional regulations and guidelines they are implementing. Knowing these two things will help you to understand the risks a bit better as well as know how to come prepared to each activity.

Safely Navigating Summer Activities

If you’ve been looking forward to a little sunshine therapy at your local recreational pool or beach, or your little ones have been looking forward to visiting their favorite parks or attending their annual summer camp, you’re not alone. Summer months are filled with camps, parks, and water fun for area families – but are they safe to attend in the midst of the pandemic?

No matter what type of activity you’re looking to participate in, there are some basic guidelines to keep in mind beforehand:

  • Check site specific protocol. In addition to CDC guidelines and those of your local government, individual locations often have additional safety checks in place. Find out what their distancing regulations are in terms of space capacity, parking lot rules, and what the personal protection equipment requirements may be. You’ll also want to be sure it is noted that all public spaces (restrooms, lobbies, play areas, etc.) are frequently cleaned and disinfected for your safety as well.
  • Be prepared for your family protection. While you likely know to bring things like your masks and sanitizers, it’s also a good idea to pack extras. Outdoor activities make it easy to misplace items needed for safety, so having extras on hand can help ensure you stay protected even if the wind takes off with one of your masks.
  • Plan ahead. Depending upon which activity you’re looking to try, there are ways to help minimize the risk of exposure and limit the possibility of contact with others. Knowing the busiest times of day for your particular location will help you to plan a visit during off-peak hours, meaning you are able to limit the chances of exposure a bit more.

Best Way to Approach Summer Activity Cancellations with Kids

Unfortunately, many of our favorite summer activities are suffering cancellations in light of the pandemic. For safety purposes, a lot of area parks, pools, and camps are making the tough decision to remain closed or cancel regularly scheduled programs. Though we understand it is the right choice during times like this, often our children may have a hard time grasping why they suddenly can’t attend their favorite camp or swim at the recreation center. Knowing how to approach the subject with our kids can help minimize the disappointment a bit.

While you may be tempted to hold off on discussing potential cancellations with your kids until you have a definitive answer, it may backfire to do so. It can often help children cope with potential disappointment if they are prepared to do so by discussing things up front. Let them know the chances of cancellations of their favorite activities and then brainstorm new ideas with them. Help them come up with a safe and fun alternative to look forward to in the event that their previous plans can’t come to fruition.

What to do When Your Favorite Summer Activities are Cancelled

If your planned summer activities were spoiled by the pandemic, it doesn’t mean you need to spend an entire season indoors with nothing to do. The beauty of the summer months brings with it a surplus of outdoor activity options, so put on your thinking caps and come up with some safe and fun alternatives to your previously scheduled plans. Some fantastic (and safe) outdoor family fun activities include:

  • Exploring trails and hiking new paths
  • Bike rides, roller blading, skateboarding, or scooter rides
  • Taking a scenic drive as a family
  • Plan and start a family garden
  • Playing sports, catch, tossing a frisbee, or flying a kite
  • Go camping or set up a tent in your back yard
  • Plan a scavenger hunt for kids

How to Encourage Social Interactions During Social Distancing

If your child appears to be struggling with being away from friends, reassure them that they are not alone and work with them on a solution to staying connected during social distancing. Remember, it’s still possible to plan fun activities with their friends via online chatting and video calls. Plan a fun game night for your child and their friends to connect and play virtually. Have a virtual slumber party where your child can chat with friends online while watching movies and having popcorn “together.” The most important thing to remember is that social distancing doesn’t mean we aren’t still connected. Get creative and remain vigilant about safety and you’ll help your family through the difficult times a bit easier.

Preparing Kids for Summer Camp Safety

Preparing Kids for Summer Camp Safety

With the return of the warmer months, it’s officially that time of year for kids again: summer camp season. In previous years, this time of year inspired excitement, learning activities galore, and a chance to socialize with friends our little ones hadn’t seen in weeks. Now, with the health risks of a lingering pandemic, summer camp is inciting a new set of emotions for families. For some, it’s still filled with excitement as our children look forward to seeing friends after an extended time away – but it’s also filling many parents with dread and anxiety as things slowly open back up. There seems to be one burning question: how do we keep our kids safe, yet allow them the much-needed camp time? Let’s take a look at the best way to plan for summer camp safety this year.

Planning for Summer Camp Safety

As facilities begin to reinstate their public programs – including summer camp activities – there will undoubtedly be questions surrounding the safety of staff and children as things phase back to pre-pandemic “norms.” In order to ensure our families and friends maintain the highest level of health and safety, there are a few precautionary measures that need to be observed. The best way to make sure this happens is to check local and national guidelines and recommendations as well as speak directly with camp staff prior to enrollment. Summer camp safety depends entirely on the diligence of our community members to remain in the loop and practice safe public habits.

Prepare Children for Safe Public Interactions

By now you’ve likely mastered the list of safe public health practices like handwashing, no face-touching, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Knowing these practices and ensuring our children practice them as well can be two different beasts altogether, however. Prior to the start of camp, be sure to reiterate with your children the required safe health practices such as:

  • Distancing. Teach your children to avoid unnecessary close contact or touching of other campers and staff. Keeping the 6-feet rule will help stop any potential spread.
  • Personal Hygiene. Be sure kids are washing hands frequently and properly. They need to be aware of restroom facility locations and how/when to use them for washing as needed.
  • Movement and Etiquette. As difficult as it may be, make sure children are practicing critical health etiquette actions like coughing or sneezing in an elbow (not hands) or in a tissue. Also, make sure they are aware they should avoid touching their faces as much as possible.

Stay Informed and in Contact with Camp Officials

In addition to general health and safety guidelines, summer camp safety will also depend on several other actions and needed supplies. Check with camp officials to understand the full list of regulations for your child’s safety and to understand the protocols in place. You can also check to see if there are any additional supplies or support needed to ensure the safety of all campers this summer. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and help keep our campers happy and healthy!

Post-Pandemic: Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe as Parks and Public Spaces Open Back Up

Post-Pandemic: Tips to Keep Kids Safe as Parks and Public Spaces Open Back Up

With the weather warming up and things beginning to open publicly again following the global COVID-19 pandemic, many residents have found themselves antsy to get out of the house and return to some of their favorite activities outside. While physical activity is one of the best ways to help keep our bodies healthy – as well as our children’s bodies – rushing out to utilize shared spaces too soon or while unprepared to use them responsibly, can spell trouble for some. So, how do you keep kids safe as their favorite public places begin opening back up?

Returning to Pre-Pandemic Public Activities

As things begin opening back up, many parents will likely be wondering if it is safe to let their little ones return to their favorite public hang-out and what safety precautions they should be taking to ensure they stay healthy. With so many unknowns surrounding the pandemic, it’s not just understandable, but necessary, that parents know the risks and the best ways to safeguard their children as they begin returning to pre-pandemic “norms.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, returning to your local public parks and recreational facilities can be an important part of maintaining physical health, as long as certain guidelines and precautions are followed in the process.

“Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy. In many areas, people can visit parks, trails, and open spaces as a way to relieve stress, get some fresh air, and stay active… While these facilities and areas can offer health benefits, it is important that you follow (specified) steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC explains.

How to Keep Kids Safe in Public after COVID-19

With our main concerns centered around the safety of our families, knowing how to shield our children from the dangers of the pandemic while opening back up to public interactions has been at the forefront of every parent’s mind lately. But just how do we allow our children to get back to their favorite public activities – safely?

The answer to that question begins with taking some informative steps first. As with anything, doing a bit of research before sending kids on a long overdue outdoor adventure can help ensure the highest chances of keeping them safe during uncertain times. Just as you wouldn’t send your child unaccompanied into a strange home, following the same mindset for post-pandemic public activity will help.

Taking Informative Steps

If you’re considering opening the doors to the great outdoors for your children now that the public is beginning to open up again, information is going to be your best line of defense. Staying informed of the latest information in your area will allow you to make the best possible decisions for your family as well as ensure you’re kept abreast of any new developments and safety protocols. In other words, stay safe by staying informed. Here are some of the most important ways you can stay in the loop of the latest news and guidelines surrounding public activity and your family’s safety:

  • CDC Guidelines. Before heading out to any public location, whether with or without your children, it’s critical that you know and understand the most current CDC recommendations for safety in public. Checking what the current guidelines are will ensure you are able to take all necessary precautions as noted by health officials.
  • Local Guidelines. In addition to the CDC’s recommendations, many communities and local authorities are imposing additional safety protocols in order to keep residents as safe as possible as we transition back to pre-pandemic public life. Check these regulations as outlined by the State of New Jersey Department of Health, as well as checking any additional regulations in place in your communities by looking at city social and governmental pages.
  • Individual Guidelines. In addition to government regulations and requirements, many public places may be imposing certain guidelines of their own. Before venturing out to a particular park or recreational space, contact them in advance to understand and prepare your family with proper safety protocol before leaving the house.

Keeping Your Family Safe with General Health Practices

Overall, if you’re ever confused or in doubt about a particular safety precaution or public guideline, it’s always safest to err on the side of caution. In general, however, the CDC recommends some basic health practices be utilized at times in public in order to maintain the safety of our families as we phase back into an open public life. Keeping these health practices are the CDC’s most recommended way to stay safe during this time:

  • Stay Close to Home. The further we travel for outdoor activity, the greater our risk becomes for being exposed to more potentially contaminated surfaces or infected individuals. Visiting recreational areas closer to home limits our travel and potential contact with these risks.
  • Continue to Maintain a 6 Foot Distance from Others. As difficult as this may be in some public situations, maintaining a safe distance (6 feet, according to the CDC) will limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If maintaining social distance is difficult (children in playground spaces), try to stick to places that are less crowded or visit during less busy times of the day.
  • Utilize Face Coverings. While face masks are not recommended for children under 2, older children should be using them while out in public areas – especially if there is difficulty maintaining a 6-feet-apart distance. This is one of the best ways to protect against potential contaminants.
  • Handwashing and Sanitizing. Another important step is to make sure children are aware of the need to properly wash and/or sanitize their hands as well as keeping their hands away from their faces while they’re out. If this is particularly difficult, you may want to choose an activity that doesn’t involve potentially contaminated areas like playground equipment.

By following the recommended safety guidelines of our public health officials and local regulatory commissions, it’s possible to phase back into public life safely. Stay vigilant with the recommendations and any changing requirements in order to keep kids safe and healthy as we begin to come out of this pandemic.

Play-Based Learning Activities to do at Home

At Tessa, we highly encourage learning through play and open-ended activities.  While distance learning presents new obstacles, we are finding creative ways to use the everyday objects that we have at home to continue learning.  Here are some learning hacks that you can try with using some common household objects. 

Counting

Math lessons in school often involve different kinds of manipulatives- like counting blocks- to help students visualize different mathematical concepts.  But there are so many substitutes that you can use for counters, including but not limited to: legos, beads, buttons, cheerios, goldfish, bottle caps, pom poms, paper clips, and clothespins.  This works best with any repetitive object that children can easily move and visualize. 

Addition and Subtraction

For children who are practicing single-digit addition or subtraction you can use a deck of playing cards (uno cards also work).  You would need to remove any face cards, or non-numerical cards, and then you can shuffle and choose two (or more) cards to add together.   

Categorization

At home you can also practice grouping objects based on similarities and differences.  If you use a muffin or ice cube tray, along with a variety of small objects (this could even be some of the manipulatives listed above) students can form groups based on objects that have similar properties (shape, size, color, etc). 

Writing

There are other fun alternatives to writing on tablets or on paper.  Using dry erase markers, kids can write on glass doors, windows, or other glass surfaces- while being able to stand, sit, and move around.  Another method is to spread shaving cream on a tray or other flat surface that children can write in with their fingers. You can also combine these two methods and write in shaving cream on windows!

With some creative problem solving there are still plenty of ways to continue learning at home, while encouraging children to play and explore.  We hope that everyone has a relaxing, fun, and safe spring break and we look forward to seeing you again next week!

Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030