There are lots of families I know of who have not been able to explain to their kids why life has suddenly become different. This is understandable because some information can create unnecessary panic among children. Someone recently lamented on Twitter that their daughter wanted a particular toy which they had scheduled to get from an overseas trip. She cannot understand why daddy is breaking his promise. My little girl recently told me she misses school and Church and is wondering why we have been indoors for weeks. COVID-19 statistics are not things you dish out at children. They won’t understand it, and if they do, they might freak out.

Storytelling is one of the ways parents and caregivers can offer information and comfort to children during a hard time. Engaging children in storytelling is one of the ways to share history, ideas, emotions, values, hopes and beliefs. Children generally connects to and love to hear or read stories. Under normal circumstances, telling stories, reading compelling story books aloud, and planning opportunities for children to create and share their own stories are things teachers do on a daily basis. But as schools remain closed in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, these are not usual circumstances and so parents and caregivers should employ different means of getting children in the know of things around the world.

One of the best ways adults can help young children cope with the situation around the world right now is by sharing age-appropriate information, reassuring their safety, and learning about the many people (health workers, researchers and governments) working to fight Corona virus.

Here’s an example of how you can tell the Corona virus story to children: This work was done by Dr. Shu-Chen Jenny Yen, California State University, Fullerton.

There’s no doubt that this experience has had and will continue to have its impact across all continents. A lot of families are experiencing additional significant difficulties due to loss of income, sick family members, and other worries. As we go through this pandemic together, my hope is that the power of storytelling will keep us entertained, provide us comfort, help us understand our experiences, and allow us to process our feelings as we continue to hold on to better days to come.

All of us at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) want to

empower children to look up to the many heroes and contribute to fighting this pandemic! After all, taking good care of yourself and not spreading the virus are heroic acts!

 

Dr Elizabeth Ogunshola

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