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How to Talk with Your Child About COVID-19 [5 Helpful Tips]

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How to prepare for school closures

On March 11, the World Health Organization officially classified  COVID-19 as a pandemic. As of March 13, 2020, President Trump declared it a national emergency.

It’s likely that governments of all levels will temporarily close individual schools or entire districts. This undoubtedly affects millions of families who will have to both work and learn from home.

In case your child has to stay home because of school closures, here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to keep their days structured and productive:

  • Read with your child -- As we highlighted in our math anxiety article, reading with your child “can have powerful lasting effects on children’s academic achievements.”
  • Get active -- Whether your child plays outside, starts a dance party, builds with blocks, plays sports etc., physical activity will help them get creative, expend energy and stay healthy.
  • Encourage safe and healthy screen time -- Be aware of what digital games your child is playing. You may even want to play with or alongside them to ensure the game is appropriate and to simply spend time together. (For more about screen time, see our article about Children and Technology.)

How to talk to your child about COVID-19

Events like COVID-19 come with a lot of “noise” -- alarming news headlines, frantic social media posts and the like. It can be overwhelming and scary for anyone, especially children.

According to the AAP, there are five things you can share with your child to help them understand what’s going on. We’ve adapted this list to share with you.

  1. Reassure your child -- Let them know that medical professionals and scientists are doing all they can, as fast as they can, to keep them and everyone else safe.
  2. Empower your child -- Give them a sense of control in a time when everything seems out of control. Explain that they have the power to help by washing their hands and coughing or sneezing into their sleeve.
  3. Monitor media -- It’s hard to monitor everything your child sees or hears. But if you can, keep young children away from scary or graphic images on television or the internet. For older children, be open and transparent about what they’ve heard and work together to correct any misinformation they’ve shared.
  4. Watch for anxiety -- Your child may not have the words (or want) to express how they’re feeling, but they may show signs of being anxious. This could look like trouble sleeping, seeming distant or distracted, being overly cranky, being unusually clingy, etc. If so, continue to reassure and empower them daily.
  5. Be the role model you would want -- In the same way that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, neither should we. Because this started in Wuhan, China, the misinformed belief that Chinese people are more susceptible or contagious can lead to discrimination. The more you show empathy and support to those in need, the more your children will, too.

We hope these tips help you in the coming weeks and months. If this was helpful, please share this article with your family and friends.

Click here for our updating list of resources! We’re adding to it regularly.

You can also join our Prodigy Parent Community on Facebook. During this unique time, we want to help in any way we can and actively support you in the parent community. We'll be regularly answering questions and sharing helpful resources.

Together, we can ensure your child will be able to #LearnFromHome.

P.S. Follow the hashtag #LearnFromHome on social media. We will be tagging as many helpful resources as we can. 
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