You may or may not know that I am a mama to two toddlers and a school social worker currently working with Early Childhood/Preschool-aged children. I know this blog is supposed to be about writing but if there was ever a time for a crossover-episode, this is it.
So here goes:
How are you supposed to explain coronavirus/COVID-19 and the closure of schools, libraries, and everything else to young children?
First, breathe. This is new and rapidly changing territory. That can be scary for grown ups and kids. Make sure you can appear calm and collected when talking with your child about the current state. Take a break if you need to. Avoid having the news on and avoid talking about it around children.
Need help breathing? Sesame Street has you and your kids covered with a video.
Need a social story about COVID-19 that is simple and to the point? It was created for children with Autism but the direct approach paired with visuals makes it ideal for Preschool-aged and young elementary children as well.
Does your child need more? NPR has an article/comic for explaining coronavirus to children. It’s geared toward children older than preschool-aged but might give you some good ideas and visuals you can use. It does not talk about school closure but could be followed up with a conversation about how another way to keep everyone safe is to stay home to stop the spread of germs:
And finally, here is NASP article with advice for parents.
You won’t have all the answers. Honestly, your kids don’t expect you to. Wash your hands. Love the people close to you – whether in your house or via video chat. Donate money to food shelters if you are able. Feel free to post links to national food banks or charities helping provide childcare for healthcare workers in the comments.
And when you have the mental and emotional capacity for it, let’s be ready to talk about what we learned from all of this and what big things need to change to make things better for the future.