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Kalispell pediatrician gives tips on how to tell if your child is ready for in-person learning

Posted at 5:12 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 13:01:38-04

KALISPELL — With school right around the corner, health professionals are encouraging parents to keep a close eye on their children to see if they're physically and emotionally ready to return in person.

MTN News spoke with John Cole, a pediatrician at Sunnyview Pediatrics in Kalispell who explained that in-person learning is important for children's emotional and social health.

"In-person learning is very very important and as a member of the American Family Pediatrics," said Cole. "But we want to make sure that school is safe for them to learn for themselves and teachers as well."

However, Cole said that if your child has any underlying health conditions and you are concerned about them doing in-person learning, a mask is crucial.

He explained that their office has already been receiving lots of calls from parents who want doctor's notes written exempting their child out of wearing a mask.

"Asthma, or anybody that might have anxiety, would be another concern for wearing a mask," said Cole. "But I can't overstate how important the mask is for keeping kids and teachers safe."

He says that parents should monitor their child's emotional health through this pandemic.

And what symptoms to look for in your child if you're concerned about their anxiety or depression.

He explained that depression and anxiety often present differently in children than in adults.

"Maybe they're having trouble falling asleep at night, maybe they're losing interest in activities they used to enjoy doing," he said. "Maybe they're not eating as well, maybe they're more withdrawn into themselves and not as interactive as they were before."

He told MTN News that another thing to watch for is a change in behavior.

If your child who was once acting pretty safe and is now all of a sudden engaging in risky behavior that could be a sign that your child needs extra help or isn't ready to return to in-person learning.

He told MTN that the best thing parents can do is maintain a regular and normal schedule, creating a routine. It's also important to model good, positive, calm, behavior.

He says that children often mirror parental behavior even if it's not expressed verbally.

Cole suggests that decreasing stress can be done by recreating outside with your child.

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, please consult a professional.

For more resources, Dr. Cole suggests healthychildren.org or to call and talk to your school leaders.

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