We are in the middle of a challenging time in our world and we have more questions than answers. As adults we struggle with the reality of what is going on. We have concerns about health, our jobs, our children’s education, our extended family…the list goes on. We also know that our children have questions and we want to answer those questions in reassuring and developmentally appropriate ways.
When talking to your children about COVID-19 I recommend that you encourage your children to ask their questions first. This will allow you to provide the information they are seeking in ways they understand. You don’t need to give them all the information, but providing them with an understanding of why we are sheltering in place in our own homes and why we can’t play with our friends will help them process their feelings of fear, frustration, and isolation.
In order to support our children well, we also need to care for ourselves. What does that mean for us as adults?
- Spend time every day with God in prayer and in His Word.
- Engage in healthy eating and sleeping habits.
- Walk away from social media or news coverage when it starts to cause you anxiety.
- Create a schedule for your family that supports the learning and emotional needs of your children and your own work schedule.
- Get outside and take a walk or just let the sun shine on your face.
- Talk to a friend or your spouse privately about the things that you are struggling with. Remember young children are not equipped to carry adult burdens, so please make sure these conversations occur when your kids are not in the room with you.
- Remember to play. Playing isn’t just for kids. Playing increases our sense of well-being.
Finding balance is challenging. When everything changes quickly we need time to adjust and find our new “normal”. What was normal two weeks ago has changed. What does it look like now? Our children are struggling with the same things. As adults we are modeling for them how to handle a crisis. They are learning by watching us. How will your children remember COVID-19? What stories will they tell their children and grandchildren? I pray they tell a story of hope – how communities came together to support one another and how God was welcomed back into people’s lives. We have hope in Christ and we trust Him to guide us as we live in His Story.
There are a number of online resources available to support parents while schools are closed. I am sure your child’s teacher has been sharing some of them with you. I would like to share with you a few that I have found to be helpful.
Child Mind Institute – This site has helpful resources for parents as you balance your work, child care, and self-care. It is a great source for mental health articles. This is not a faith-based organization so I encourage you to read the information with a Christian worldview in mind and determine what is appropriate for you and your child.
Scholastic Learn at Home – Scholastic has been providing resources for parents and teachers for many years. This site provides additional learning experiences broken down into grade level groupings. This may be helpful if your kids are getting a little bored.
WKAR Family – The stated goal of WKAR Family is “Forming connections to help kids be resilient, lifelong learners.” They have great videos to support parents.
MidAmerica Books Online Library – Libraries may be closed, but here is a source of informational books your child can read online. As with all library materials, please be mindful of what your child is reading.
Help! I have not been trained to be a teacher. What can I do to make this work?
This is a question that I have been hearing quite a bit. My first piece of advice is set a schedule. This can be done in a variety of ways. I am a fan of sticky notes and colored markers. There are a lot of ideas on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google. You can also use a whiteboard or type it up on a word document. A structured schedule is helpful for student learning. Everyone knows what to expect and how much time they have to do their work. The main thing is to find something that works for you.
My second piece of advice is to set a recess time every day and get your kids outside. They need to run off some energy and you need a little break. Taking brain breaks throughout the day will help everyone learn productively. If you can go outside try:
- Walking around the block
- Going on a scavenger hunt
- Raking the leaves
- Making an obstacle course
- Playing tag
If you can’t get outside try these ideas:
- Animal walks (walk like a bear, hop like a frog, stand like a flamingo, fly like a bird)
- Do simple exercises such as wall push-ups, regular push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, running in place
- Rocket ship jumps (bending down, touching toes and bouncing while counting down from 10, then blastoff)
- GoNoodle Videos
- Build with Legos
- Have a dance party
Written by Sheila Dykstra, Elementary Principal