Preparing to Return to School: Steps for Independence

Here at Children’s House, we have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year. We are rearranging our schedule and our daily routines in order to better accommodate new health guidelines and to ensure the safety of our community, to the best of our ability. For a complete list of the changes we are making, check out our COVID-19 Precautions page.

If your child is enrolled in a Montessori program, then you know how we feel about independence. As we prepare for a school year unlike any other, it is doubly important for children to be independent in certain areas, so as to ensure minimal physical contact between the staff and students. The first day of school will be here before we know it, so consider these steps you can take at home, to ensure your child is happy, healthy, and ready for this next adventure! 

Step 1: Dress for Independence

Before you send your child off to school in those cute little tennis shoes and jeans, make sure they know how to tie, button, and zip! If they can’t undo their own zippers or re-tie their own shoes, please rethink their clothing. Loose-fitting, elastic-waisted pants, shirts without buttons, and shoes with Velcro fasteners are the way to go. As we strive for minimal physical contact, it is imperative that children do as much for themselves as they are able. 

When cooler weather comes, have your child practice putting on their new jacket or winter coat and gloves or mittens. Select clothes with easy zippers or fasteners and ask yourself, “Can he do it by himself or will a teacher need to help him?” Opt for independence, over fashion, please. 

Step 2: Practice Opening Food and Drink Containers

We want to ensure that your child’s food is not touched by anyone else before it is eaten. For that reason, teachers will not be assisting children with containers, lids, straw wrappers, etc. In order for your child to have a successful experience with lunch and snack time, be sure to send in foods that are either completely open and ready to eat, or can easily be opened by the child themself. 

  • Sandwiches should be wrapped in paper or in a plastic baggie
  • Fruit should be washed and cut up, if necessary, in a disposable bag or container
  • Only pack yogurt, applesauce, fruit cups, bags of chips or crackers, etc. if your child can independently open them 100% of the time
  • Consider purchasing compostable lunch containers that will be easy to open and are environmentally friendly

Step 3: Practice Independence in Personal Hygiene

Children are not exactly known for their amazing personal hygiene habits. Let’s do our best to keep our germs to ourselves and practice these at home:

  • Proper Hand-Washing – Before and after meals, after using the bathroom, after sneezing or blowing their nose, and after hands go into mouths. Teach your child to wash their hands often and properly. Their teachers will thank you!
  • How to Wipe After Going to the Bathroom – Outside of the fact that all children eventually need to learn to clean themselves properly after using the bathroom, good bathroom habits will help minimize the need for assistance from a teacher, which is a good thing for everyone involved. 
  • How to Use a Tissue – The more independent your child can be in all areas of personal hygiene, the better! Practice proper tissue techniques before your child gets the sniffles, including disposing of the tissue and washing hands when they’re done. And — when they DO get the sniffles, keep them home!
  • Wearing a Mask – Make sure you have plenty of time to get your child comfortable with the idea of wearing a mask at school. Let them pick out their own masks, incentive them to wear them for longer periods of time, if it’s a challenge, and educate them about the importance of wearing masks to keep others safe. 

Choose Your Words Wisely

Language matters! As we prepare for a new normal, be sure to use positive language to discuss these changes with your child. Try to avoid scary words or transferring your own fears about the unknown to your child. Some children will be starting school for the very first time — this is still an exciting time for your family, so celebrate it! 

Other children are returning to school after a very long absence — remind them of all the things they loved about their school and reassure them that their teachers are there to keep them safe.

  • “I’m so happy you get to see your friends again! I bet they’ve missed you, too!”
  • “We’re going to practice washing our hands properly so that we can help keep our friends and teachers healthy.”
  • “Wearing a mask helps us keep our germs away from others.”
  • “If you want to take applesauce for lunch, we need to practice opening the container, so that you can do it yourself.”
  • “You’re going to have so much fun playing on the playground with the other kids! I can’t wait to hear all about your day!”

Our Commitment to You

Here at Children’s House, we are committed to:

  • Providing a clean, safe learning environment for our students and staff
  • Adhering to current, science-based recommendations for managing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus
  • Maintaining open lines of communication about the health of our community
  • Making them most of out of our school year and having fun together

We are so excited to see your child’s smiling face again and no mask is going to change that! Stay safe, wash your hands, and we’ll see you in August!

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We are currently closed, but are available to conduct VIRTUAL tours and IN-PERSON tours Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:30 pm. All tours are by appointment only and masks are required for in-person tours.

Spaces are filling up quickly! Please call 703-481-6678 and leave a message or contact Cinthia (cinthia@childrenshouse-montessori.com) or Keturah (keturah@childrenshouse-montessori.com) to schedule your tour today.

For more information: COVID-19 Precautions: Preparing to Open Safely in the Fall

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