Heading off to school always brings a mix of excitement and worry. These days, there is more worry than usual. So how do we best prepare our kids for a return to the classroom, especially when there is so much pandemic- related stress adding to the anxiety? The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) created Our Spot to address questions like this one. Whether you are a teen, a young child or a parent of a child with psoriatic disease, Our Spot features the stories, information and resources you need to thrive. Among those many resources are a few gems we’ve assembled to help you navigate the back-to-school process for a youngster who experiences psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
Communicate Clearly and Often
You know this one already, right? But it’s always worth a reminder. Your kids can feel the stress and worries that you carry around, and they are likely anxious about similar things. So be sure you are taking time to listen to your children’s concerns. Teens and tweens, be open and honest with your parents. Then work together to find the answers you need. Sometimes a call or email to the school can save you a mountain of worry.
Get Your School Action Kit
On NPF’s Our Spot, you can find the School Action Kit, complete with a presentation that parents can share with teachers and classmates to introduce psoriatic disease and educate everyone about it. There are also form letters you can send to a school nurse or administrator – we’ve taken the work out of it in an effort to help you help your child. We’ve even included Fact Sheets, which explain to school officials and teachers the basics of psoriatic disease – like the fact that it’s not contagious!
Watch a Webinar on Your Own Time
Knowledge is everything, right? Isn’t that why our kids are going to school in the first place? Lead by example, and brush up on the facts with NPF’s school-related webinars, “Understanding Education Law and How It Applies to Your Child” and “Coping with Psoriatic Disease: Helping Your Child Navigate School and Beyond.”
Talk to the School Nurse
If your school has a nurse, as many do, he or she is going to be under extra stress and pressure during this return to school because of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Building a relationship with the school nurse is essential, both for helping to ensure good care for your child and for educating other students on psoriatic disease, should that become necessary. So don’t add to the school nurse’s stress, but position yourself as an ally to nurture this important relationship.
A Few Bonus Tips From NPF’s Youth Advisory Group
We sat down, virtually, with our youth advisers to get some firsthand thoughts on planning for a successful return to school.
Schedule a pre-visit (either virtually or in person, maintaining social distancing) before school starts with a counselor, teacher or school RN to discuss potential waivers for bringing in over-the- counter products like moisturizers and hand sanitizers that are easier on the skin. This is a great chance to talk about other things your child may need, like extra trips to the restroom to apply moisturizer.
Back-to-school supplies should include hand sanitizer with a moisturizer to help offset the drying effect of alcohol in the sanitizer. Sunscreen is recommended to help with potential aftereffects of phototherapy.
If face masks are required, you may want to use extenders or holders to avoid rubbing around the ear, which could cause a flare of psoriasis in or around the ear. This could also be helpful for mask use with younger children. Some extenders are available through companies or handmade with buttons.