During uncertain times, such as during a pandemic, parents, teachers, and young children can, at times, feel uncertain and even worried. Major changes have happened to our daily life and routines. Young children seek consistency and security from adults amid all these changes. In this tool kit, we have gathered some helpful resources on topics that may pertain to you during COVID-19.
Childcare and School Changes
During the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare and schools have gone through vast changes. Your child’s program may have closed for a time or you may experience intermittent closures because of a COVID-19 exposure within a classroom. Additionally, drop-off routines, health and safety guidelines, and class sizes may have changed. These changes affect your child’s day-to-day life. Children may be curious why there are changes to their routine.
- You can talk with your child about what is the same and different in childcare.
- Provide simple explanations and visuals.
- When you are at home together, keep a stable routine; play and explore with your child.
- You can help your child understand when they will be returning to the classroom by looking at a calendar together and counting and crossing off the days until the return date.
You can learn more about how high-quality childcare centers are handling COVID-19 in our podcast series “Childcare During COVID-19.”
Loss of a Job or Income
Families may experience a lost job or reduced income during the pandemic. The stress and worry that parents feel during this hardship can be felt by children, too. Families may experience homelessness or the need for additional financial supports and resources. In both of these situations, this resource directory may be helpful.
- Loss of a job can bring added stress for parents both financially and personally. Parents may feel guilt and a range of other emotions as they experience this serious life change.
- Talk with young children about your change in schedule and routine.
- If you plan on moving, consider how you can involve your child and make the move a positive one.
- Spend quality time with your child.
- Do a fun 15–30 minute activity at home with your child. No planning needed!
- Continue to remain positive in your outlook toward the future.
Illness or Death of Family Member or Friend
Unfortunately, many families know someone who has gotten COVID-19. You also may have experienced death in your family or circle of friends. Young children may worry about COVID-19. It is important for them to know how adults are keeping them safe during a pandemic.
Consider strategies such as:
- Washing your hands to keep the germs off.
- Wearing a mask when you are out so germs won’t go in your nose or mouth.
- Staying apart to keep away from the germs.
If your child knows a friend or family member who has COVID-19, it is important to talk with your child about the role of helpers in their community. Describe how doctors and nurses are helping to care for people who are sick so they can get better. If loved ones are well enough, you may be able to connect via a phone call or video call, which will help ease your child’s worries.
With a death of a friend or family member, it is normal for your child to mourn their loss. Help to guide and comfort them after they experience this weighty trauma.
Although these two podcasts on trauma are focused on childcare providers, many of the strategies suggested could work for parents as well.
Time Spent Apart from Friends
Children are very attached to their friends, even at a young age. They may also be missing time with other people they see on a regular basis, such as neighbors, relatives, family friends, or even community members. When families spend more time at home, when advised by health authorities, this helps to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19. However, children may still want to be with and play with their friends and interact with other significant people in their lives.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about being apart from their friend(s).
- Keep connected with your friend(s) through phone calls and video calls.
- Set up an outdoor playdate with a friend at a fun place like a playground. Consider wearing masks, especially when your local public health agency recommends it.
- Activities: Learning at Home Activities
- COVID-19 Parenting Pep Talk: Be With Your Child’s Big Feelings
- COVID-19 Parenting Pep Talk: (Re)focus on Positive Guidance
- Getting Your Child Ready to Return to Childcare
- Helping Young Children with Disabilities During a Trying Time: Adding Structure and Routine
- Keep Young Children Learning at Home During Trying Times
- Tip Sheets:
- Tool Kit: Resource Directory for Illinois Families with Young Children Experiencing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity