Some Ideas for Families of Young Children During School Closures for COVID-19

With our daily routines disrupted and many elements of our work and personal lives currently unknown, it is understandable that there will be heightened stress and anxiety. In times of communal stress it can sometimes be hard to know what to say or how to react. During this time, keeping our daily routines, connecting with others (even from afar), and caring for ourselves will help offer a sense of security and help children know what to expect.

Here Are a Few Suggestions With More Information & Resources on Each Below:

  • Speak with your children about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and why schools are closing
  • Keep a daily routine that works for you and your family so everyone knows what to expect.
  • Offer children lots of opportunities to stay engaged in play and learning.
  • Caregivers’ physical and mental health is important.
mother helping daughter with homework
boy in brown hoodie carrying red backpack while walking

Speak With Your Child About the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Why Schools Are Closing

  • Children are likely hearing about the virus. Feel free to talk with them about it. Not talking about it may actually make them more nervous.  Invite your child to share what they know about the coronavirus and how they are feeling.
  • Find out what your child already knows before beginning the conversation. Ask questions geared to your child’s age level. For younger children, you could say, “Have you heard grownups talking about a new sickness (germ) that’s going around?” This gives you a chance to learn how much kids know — and to find out if they’re hearing the wrong information.
  • Follow your child’s lead. Some children may want to spend time talking or even drawing. But if your children don’t seem interested or don’t ask a lot of questions, that’s OK. They may need time to think about it and come back to you later with their questions.
  • Answer your child’s questions about the virus in a straightforward and factual manner.
  • If your child asks about something and you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say, “I’m not sure.” Use the question as a chance to find out together, or let the child know you’ll check into it and come back to them later.
  • Remember that emotions are contagious. Your attitude about the coronavirus will impact how your child feels about it. If you remain calm, your child is more likely to remain calm as well.
  • Empower your child with information about staying safe. You might say, “We can be germ-busters! Germ busters keep germs away by washing hands and keeping hands to ourselves and away from faces.” Let children know there are a lot of helpers who are working to keep the germs away too, like doctors and nurses.
  • Give children space to share their fears. It’s natural for children to worry, “Could I be next? Could that happen to me?” Let them know they can always come to you for answers or to talk about what scares them.

Some Language to Share With Children

  • “There is a new germ, like the germs that give us the flu or a cold and it’s called Coronavirus, or COVID-19.”
  • “It can make people cough or have a fever, but if a person gets this germ it usually doesn’t stay for long.”
  • “Grown-ups are very good at keeping kids safe. We can stay safe by washing our hands with soap and water. When we wash our hands, we can sing a song! What song should we sing?”
  • “Grown-ups everywhere, like your teachers and other grownups in school are working really hard to make sure that everyone stays healthy and one way to do that is making sure we do our learning and playing from home.”
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