Helping your child and family navigate COVID-19

Staff Report 

As we move from our normal daily routines into uncharted territory, The Florida Center for Early Childhood encourages families to view the current COVID-19 crisis and subsequent self-quarantine safety precaution as an opportunity for parents to bond with their children. They can also continue to stimulate their development through a variety of online resources, enrichment activities and mindfulness practices that can be easily completed at home.

These activities and practices are recommended by our team of early childhood experts and can help children with developmental delays or disabilities continue to learn and grown despite being unable to participate in normal appointments or activities with their teachers and therapists.

Communication is key.

Your children have most likely already noticed a change in schedule. Their preschool or school has probably been closed and Mom and Dad aren’t getting up and going to work like normal, instead they are taking calls at home and working from a computer. It’s best to be honest about what’s going on and do so in a way that they can understand without causing undo stress. For toddlers, you may want to answer questions on an “as needed” basis. Zero to Three’s Answering your young child’s questions about Coronavirus and Why are people wearing masks? are both wonderful resources for communicating with the little ones.

For grade-school aged children, painting a picture about the pandemic can sometimes be easier for them to understand, especially if they are visual learners. Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Corona Virus from National Public Radio, or NPR, offers a pictorial explanation in comic book format. Another resource is this live-science-ultimate-kids-guide-to-coronavirus-covid-19, which makes it very simple for adults to explain the Coronavirus and be prepared to answer questions from even the most inquisitive child. Another great read is How to talk to your children about the Coronavirus, a recent article published in the New York Times.

Activities 

Now that the children know why your family is confined to the house, you will need to figure out what to do with them! These 50 easy indoor activities for kids from Hello Wonderful and Zero to Three’s at home activity guide will not only keep them occupied, but also stimulate cognitive development. It’s also probable that a friend or family member that’s typically in your child’s life might not be able to visit for a while. In that case, this article, How to make the most of video chats, from Zero to Three is a inventive way to stay in touch.

If you’re working from home, there will come a time when you need something to keep the children occupied. Here is an entire list of education companies offering free subscriptions while schools are closed. Other creative cultural learning opportunities are also  available, like these 15 free Broadway plays and musicals you can watch from home  or these 12 famous museums offering free virtual tours.

Stress Management

With everything that’s going on and all the changes that are occurring, stress management is important for all members of the family. When it comes to managing the stress of your child, this article by the Harvard Center for the Developing Child – Stress, resilience and the role of science: responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and Supporting Young Children Isolated Due to Coronavirus (pdf) from the Louisiana State University are both informative resources. If your child does become stressed, these 25 fun mindfulness activities for children and teens are a great way for you to help calm their nerves.

It’s also important that parents practice stress management as well. Seeing you stressed and anxious can cause the same reaction in your children. Zero to Three’s What to do with that mad you feel and The Importance of self-care during the Coronavirus  as well as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty are all good resources to help you cope.

Check out our social media accounts for more resources, recommended by our team of early childhood experts, to get you and your child through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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