The Illinois State Board of Education recently recommended that all students wear masks when they return to school in the fall. Our state isn’t the only one making the recommendation.

After all, physicians all over the world have said that mask wearing can significantly reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

The CDC also recommends that children wear masks in public, if they’re age three and up.

One way to help kids become more comfortable with masks is to practice wearing one at home.

While we’re still weighing our options and considering homeschooling, I know, at some point, my kids are going to have to wear a mask while out in public. So how can we, as parents, prepare our kids?

Here are four tips to help kids get used to the idea of wearing a mask.

1. Involve Your Kids in Picking Out the Mask

If kids are involved in the decision-making process, they’re much more likely to be on board with wearing a mask. If you’re shopping for a mask online, show them the options; a lot of companies, like Crayola, are offering some fun designs. If you’re sewing the mask at home, have your kids pick out the fabric.

2. Make Sure The Mask Fits

It feels like we’re in a whole new world right now, and getting used to wearing a mask can take some time. That said, if the mask doesn’t fit properly, like if its tugging on the ears too much, there’s no way your child will want to wear it. It may take some trial and error, but the correct size can make a world of difference.

3. Explain Why Masks Are Important

My kids always want to know “why.” Why they should wear masks in public is no different. They will be a whole lot more inclined to wear a mask if they receive an answer better than “just because.” In a kid-appropriate way, explain why we wear masks: because it’s doing our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They help protect us, just like hand washing does.

4. Practice Wearing the Mask

Wearing a mask is most definitely an adjustment — even for adults! Rather than wait until the school year starts, practice wearing the mask at home. Show your child how you wear your mask too. As your kids get used to the feel of wearing a mask (and seeing others wear them too), go out on small outings in public. It may take time, but it’s one way to get used to the new normal.

If your child is still struggling to wear a mask, know you’re far from alone. Some kids will resist. Don’t push too hard. Give the kiddos a break, and try again later. New things can take time. And if the school year is suddenly upon us and they’re still not ready? Let the teacher or school know. Because chances are, once again, you’re not alone.

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