Since the spread of the Coronavirus in our area, our children have been exposed to a lot of adult conversations and news coverage in the media regarding the Coronavirus. This can be very scary and confusing for young children. One way to help your child is to start an open conversation with your child. It is important that we communicate with our children, by listening to their questions and concerns and communicating information in a way that gives them answers that are appropriate for their age and understanding and also to minimize their anxiety.
Children may already have some information that they have heard, so when starting a conversation with your child first start by finding out what your child knows. Ask your child what they have heard? Once your child has told you what they know, you will then have an idea of their understanding or misunderstanding of what is happening. You know your child best so tailor your conversation to your child’s knowledge and level of understanding. You don’t want to be talking about death if you have not introduced this concept to your child previously.
Here are a few points for possible discussion:
The Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is a virus just like the cold and flu, but it is new, so that is why people are talking about it.
Children may exhibit no symptoms or develop a mild illness with a runny nose, cough, and temperature if they catch this virus. Very few children get really sick from Covid-19.
Some older people have gotten very sick from this virus and a few have gone to the hospital. Only talk about death if your child has heard about people dying and has been introduced to this concept.
People are taking the spread of Covid-19 very seriously so no one gets sick. We can make sure that we don’t get sick or spread illness by making sure that we wash our hands, cough into the crook of our arm, use a tissue to blow our nose, and not go to school or work if we are sick. You might want to ask your child if they can think of any other healthy habits that we can do to stay healthy (eat healthy food and exercise might be two).
Everyone is working together to prevent the spread of this virus as we want to make sure that everyone is safe and healthy.
Some people who have been exposed to the virus are staying at home or in a hospital to make sure that they can get well and don’t make other people sick. When sick people are kept separate from healthy people so as not to spread an illness, it is called a quarantine.
Let your child know that you will keep them safe and that they don’t need to worry as if they get sick you will take care of them and take them to the doctor if necessary.
This is a great time to teach your child healthy habits of washing their hands (which we are doing at school) and coughing into the crook of their arm or using a tissue. You could also talk about eating healthy and getting exercise.
There is a children’s book about germs that is called, Germs make me sick, by Melvin Berger. It is for children around 5 to 9 who are able to think more abstractly and want more information. It might be too old for a three year old.
It is really important that you keep media exposure by your children to a minimum. The TV announcements mostly talk about deaths, China, and school or business closures. They focus a lot on China and we don’t want our children to think negatively about people of Chinese ethnicity. Anyone can have Covid-19. Media exposure regarding the Coronavirus can cause anxiety and confusion for our children.
The Coronavirus outbreak is an opportunity for you to develop open lines of communication with your child so that they feel comfortable coming to you with difficult issues. Listening and validating their knowledge and concerns are important when opening a discussion with your child. It is important that children have someone they can go to with their problems and concerns and know that they will be heard.
One more thing that you can do to help prevent the spread of illness is to make sure that you don’t bring your child to school if they are coughing or have a fever and to make sure that all of their clothing including sweaters are clean each day. This is particularly important if your child is coughing onto their clothing (crook of arm).
Thank you for supporting our efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and keeping our students and staff healthy. We appreciate everyone following our request to drop your child off in the lobby area and allowing their child to walk into the classroom independently. This is not just cutting down on the number of people that go into our classrooms each day, but also is helping our children to be more independent!
Please feel free to contact us with your questions or comments and we would be happy to answer.
We will continue to keep you informed of any changes to our policy or schedule for Bellevue Montessori School.
Susan K. Locke, M.Ed.
Bellevue Montessori School