Many families with young children are seeking resources about learning at home with young children as the COVID-19 situation evolves in our communities. This is a trying time for early childhood programs and families as they work together to keep young children safe, healthy, and learning. We encourage adults to (1) keep a stable routine and provide consistent guidance, (2) give child-appropriate explanations, (3) provide developmentally appropriate activities, and (4) reach out for support and information from reliable sources. The resources on this list are organized by these four principles. (Note: This list was originally created on March 12, 2020 and has been updated regularly. For additional IEL resources created about this topic, please see our COVID-19 page.)
See related blog: Keep Young Children Learning at Home During Trying Times.
Stable Routines and Consistent Guidance
The selected IEL resources below provide ideas to help caregivers use positive guidance strategies and provide stable routines for young children.
- Tip Sheets:
- Positive Guidance for Young Children: Be Consistent
- Positive Guidance for Young Children: Be Thoughtful
- Positive Guidance for Young Children: Plan Ahead
- Positive Guidance for Young Children: Take a Break and Calm Down
- Small Child, Big Stress?
- Eating Right = Healthy Children
- Say What You Mean! Talking Straight to Children
- Encouraging Words
- Feelings Are Fantastic
- Young Children’s Mental Health: What Is Essential?
- ZZZs, Please! Bedtime for Preschoolers
- SIDS: Back to Sleep
- Tech Time for Infants and Toddlers
- Tech Time for Young Children
- Blog Post: Helping Young Children With Disabilities During a Trying Time: Adding Structure and Routine
The links below provide information about managing stress and providing child-appropriate explanations about the coronavirus.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Coronavirus
This link from Healthy Children provides suggestions for talking to children about the coronavirus in developmentally appropriate ways. Also available in Spanish.
- Tips for Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
This link from Zero to Three provides ideas for talking to children about the coronavirus in developmentally appropriate ways.
- Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
The Child Mind Institute has provided suggestions for talking to children about the coronavirus and included a helpful video for adults.
- Anxiety About COVID-19 and Well-Being
This blog post from the Seleni Institute provides suggestions for caregivers that may help them manage their anxiety about COVID-19.
- Positive Parenting & COVID-19: 10 Tips to Help Keep the Calm at Home
This page from the American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips to help teach positive behavior during stressful times. Also available in Spanish.
- Free Digital Books about COVID-19
This collection of 15 digital books from Unite for Literacy has been written to support families with limited English. Books are written in English and Spanish and include narration in 26 languages.
- Falling Back Into School
These resources from Barton Lab provide tools for supporting young children as they return to school, online or in-person. Topics include masks & temperature checks, emotions, social skills and questions to ask your childcare center.
Developmentally Appropriate Activities
Below are selected IEL tip sheets and a blog with ideas for learning activities for young children. See our blogs, videos, and other resources for additional ideas.
- Tip Sheets:
- Fun at Home with Preschoolers: Getting Ready to Read!
- Fun at Home with Preschoolers: Let’s Measure!
- Fun at Home with Preschoolers: Play with Light & Shadow
- Young Children Need to Play!
- Play With Your Toddler—Indoors
- Read and Write Together
- Read with Your Toddler!
- Sorting, Classifying, and Organizing
- Things to Do While You’re Waiting: Math Is Everywhere
- Sing, Play, and Hear: Music’s in the Air
- Counting Up, Down, and All Around!
- Get Ready to Read
Reach Out for Support
Your local health department, school district, and faith-based and community organizations are a source of support during this trying time. The resources below can help you locate these agencies and groups.
- Find Your Local Health Department
This link will help you locate your local public health office in Illinois. If there is no local public health department in your area, contact the Illinois Department of Public Health directly for guidance.
- 211 Hotline
Use the the 211 hotline to find resources in your local community in Illinois. Simply dial 211 on your phone to connect to an operator who can help you find services and supports in your local community.
- On Our Sleeves: Nationwide Children’s Hospital Resource Directory for Illinois
This link provides a warm line and crisis line information for families in Illinois.
Reliable Sources of Information on COVID-19
Below are resources for reliable information about the COVID-19 situation and young children:
- Tip Sheet: Too Sick to Go to Child Care?
- Tip Sheet: When Should I Send a Sick Child Home
- Tip Sheet: Fight Germs! Wash Your Hands!
- Everyday Early Intervention During Coronavirus
This page of resources from the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse provides tip sheets and other related information for families and providers in the Illlinois EI system.
- Illinois Department of Public Health: Coronavirus Response
Find links to the state of Illinois response to coronavirus, including links to your local public health office.
- Illinois State Board of Education Guidance to Schools: Coronavirus
This link from the Illinois State Board of Education provides information about guidance for Illinois public schools.
- Child Care Aware: Coronavirus Resources
This link from Child Care Aware provides information about the coronavirus and child care settings.
- Office of Head Start: Coronavirus Prevention and Resources
This link provides information for Head Start programs about prevention and management of the coronavirus.
- COVID-19 for Early Childhood
This resource from the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development provides links to policy guidance for programs and resources for families.
- COVID-19 Emergency Child Care Provider Search
A dedicated help line has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential workers families to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146 in Illinois during the COVID-19 situation.
- Call for Calm
This text line connects Illinois residents to mental health professionals in Illinois via telephone during the COVID-19 situation.
- Early Care and Education Resources to Support the Response to COVID-19
This frequently updated list includes information on emergency preparedness, trauma, health and safety, distance learning, and more.
Additional Resources for Families
- Parents: Supporting Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This 5-part module offers tips to support your child’s learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include setting routines and reasonable expectations, and supporting the social-emotional development of children during this difficult time.
- Working and Learning from Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak
This resource from healthychildren.org provides tips to help cope with the “new normal” until COVID-19 is under control. Also in Spanish.
- Social Distancing as a Family: Screen Time Strategies and Resources for Parents of Children under 6
This recorded Q&A conversation provides parents with ideas for getting sleep, play, and exercise during the pandemic, while balancing family/work obligations and screen time.
- Defending the Early Years COVID-19 Resources
These videos for children, webinars for parents and caregivers, and a printable guide for supporting young children provide strategies to support children’s play and routines during the pandemic.
- Surviving Summer: A Conversation for Parents of Young Children
This recorded conversation features experts in the education field and addresses topics around activities to engage children throughout the summer, supporting children’s temperaments and learning styles, creating opportunities for socialization while physically distancing children, and supporting children with disabilities and delays during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Family Guide to At-Home Learning
This guide has practical strategies that work for helping children of all ages who may be struggling with an at-home learning task.
- COVID-19 Family Resources
This infographic will help families find COVID-19 resources and information to support their children’s learning and development.
- Resources for Learning at Home
This list of resources for families was compiled by the US Dept. of Education and includes items from several federal agencies, including the Department of Energy, NASA, The Kennedy Center, and The Smithsonian.
- How to Help Your Kids Handle Disappointment During the Coronavirus Crisis
This article presents basic tools for managing disappointments that children of any age may experience. Also in Spanish.
- Supporting Families During COVID-19
This list, from Child Mind Institute, provides information about supporting children, addressing specific concerns, taking care of yourself, remote learning, managing anxiety, behavior and others topics. Also in Spanish.