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Children need to see our faces

By Staff | May 5, 2021

To the editor:

I realize that the issue of wearing facial coverings is a sensitive one. And, sometimes, a volatile one. However, I would like to share my thoughts on wearing facial coverings from the viewpoint of a childcare provider.

Infants see at a distance of approximately eight to 15 inches. Feeding an infant is the ideal time for the infant to study their caregiver’s face. It can be a wonderful time of bonding.

However, that time of bonding is greatly impeded when the majority of the caregiver’s face is covered by a mask. Often, it is even quite scary for the child. Not only does this affect the bonding process, it can also affect the child’s feeding routine and comfort level.

Preschoolers, who are learning the sounds of the alphabet, have a difficult time learning how to form the sounds when their caregiver is wearing a facial covering. They rely as much upon seeing the formation of their caregiver’s mouth as they do listening to the sound produced.

Facial expressions are an important way of communicating with children. Children need to see when their caregivers are happy, excited, surprised, upset, concerned and disappointed.

These emotions are hard to interpret when half of the facial expression is covered. Facial expressions help children to learn about the emotions of others, how to recognize the emotional cues of others and how to respond with appropriate reactions to situations.

Furthermore, the importance of a caregiver’s broad smile cannot be underestimated. A friendly smile can help calm, encourage and reassure a child of any age.

Beth England

Cape Coral