The COVID-19 pandemic has created interesting challenges for parents. Check out ways to keep your kids entertained and how to talk to your kids about COVID-19. Special thanks to Nikki Martyn and Elena Merenda from the University of Guelph-Humber’s Early Childhood Studies program, and U of G’s Child Care and Learning Centre for contributing their advice.
Looking for advice on how to work from home with kids in the house? Visit the Working From Home section of the Gryphon Family website.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health offers tips to help you prepare if you are sending your kids back to the classroom this fall.
- Practice new routines like hand-washing, using hand sanitizer and cough/sneeze etiquette
- Get comfortable wearing a face covering
- Limit and label personal belongings
- Build confidence with opening and closing food containers and putting on shoes and clothes independently
- Provide hand sanitizer if age appropriate
- Pack a new dish towel each day that can be used as a place mat at meal times
- Pre-cut foods and provide utensils to discourage eating with hands
Read the full article to learn more on the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health website.
Helping Kids Cope
This is a scary and uncertain time for all of us, but especially for children. It is important to be honest and talk to children about COVID-19 in a way that provides them with facts and reassurance.
Explain to children that there is a virus infecting people and it is very contagious. We need to help everyone by staying safe and healthy. This may provide a great opportunity for parents to teach their children, perspective taking, empathy, generosity and gratitude by understanding the other’s perspective. Help children to understand that they are helping others by following the rules.
Children will naturally have a lot of thoughtful questions you may not have the answers for and that’s OK. It’s important to reassure them that they are safe. Be open and honest, find out what they know and what questions they have. How are they feeling? Depending on what they are asking and their age, researching to discover the answers together may be a fun and educational experience. Most children will want to know that their family is safe and will be okay. It is best to reassure them and remind them that is why we are doing things differently than we did before. Most children will remember the feelings associated with the event, not the virus or fear. Support that and create an open, warm, loving, safe, environment for your children.
Resources for explaining COVID-19 to kids:
- Coronavirus Social Story by KeshetChicago
- Coronavirus Information for Young Children by Manuela Molina
This is also a great time to teach children about germs, how they are spread and how we can protect ourselves.
Show your kids this neat experiment using black pepper and soap to teach about the importance of washing our hands.
Think about the environment you are creating and providing for your children. Having the news on in the background for instance, adults can filter the fears better then children, who do not have the knowledge or experience to understand context. They will likely hear the scary things being said and may create worst case scenarios in their minds, such as “we will all die”. This could create a lot of fear, which may result in changes in their behaviour, such as becoming more clingy (need to be close), being angry or crying a lot.
It is important to create an environment in which they feel safe and are able to share and talk with a parent or loved one. It is also important that you are honest and sensitive when you explain facts. Your children will learn the truth and how you explained it will teach them if they can trust you or not.
Tell the truth, it can be hard but it is OK to say you don’t know or simply respond to the child’s emotion with something like “I know it’s scary, I am scared too. We are doing everything to stay safe. I love you. I would never want anything to happen to you”.
Children naturally thrive on routine. They like to know what to expect and when.
This is an important part of their development and it is an often an important part of their daily lives. Since the start of the pandemic, children’s routines have changed and they may not understand why. This can create a sense of loss in control for children.
Fear or uncertainty over change and lack of routine may cause changes in behaviours. To reduce worries and or behavioral responses, it is important to maintain some normalcy in their lives and stick to a routine, such as waking and bedtime routines, meal times and family or play time (for all ages, even teens).
Need child care in your home? Check out the new Hire a Gryphon: Home Edition program. Post jobs on the Experience Guelph career job board for help with childcare, school tutoring, home chores and outdoor work or cleaning. Positions can be for part-time, full-time or casual work – whatever your current needs are.
Smart Screen Time
With kids at home, regular rules around screen time may have to be adapted. This doesn’t have to be just videos or gaming. With lots of parents trying to cope with work and family life, many companies and services are offering ways to keep kids entertained in an educational way. Check out the following:
- The Arboretum: Instagram scavenger hunt activities, informational videos and activity ideas
- We Schools At Home: Free online tools and resources to complement and support at-home learning, for Grades K through 12
- We Well-being: Downloadable resources to inform and support you and your family during this uncertain time
- Virtual field trips to places like the aquarium, museums and other virtual school activities
- Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden: Join the Cincinnati Zoo for their home safaris
- Cosmic Kids: A yoga and mindfulness channel for youth
- Art for Kids Art lessons on everything from drawing to sculpting, organized by age range
- Story time from Space: Stories read by astronauts
- American Museum of Natural History: Tours and educational content
- Camp Broadway: An educational livestream featuring theater professionals
Other Ways to Stay Busy
U of G’s Child Care and Learning Centre also recommends these activities to help keep kids busy: