Explaining Cronavirus to Students
Advice for Parents
Talking to Your Kids
As I think about discussing the Coronavirus with students I think of a quote from Mr. Rogers: "Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable." When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary. This is a scary time for many adults, and children pick up on that same fear. During this time it is critical to talk to our kids about what they "know" and their fears. Thankfully, just being in the presence of a compassionate, safe adult can help kids calm down. As families, we can be "that person" for each other.
Tools for calming unhealthy stress
When we become anxious or upset, our heart rate increases and our breath becomes more shallow. When we take deep breaths, we send a message back to the brain: It's ok to calm down.
One way to focus on breathing is to box breathe. Count to 4 slowly as you take a deep breath. Next, count to 4 slowly as you exhale. Continue this 4 times. When working with the little ones you can practice blowing out "candles" use your 4 fingers and have them blow each one out slowly.
In the moment, stress can feel like a pop in the face. It becomes hard to think clearly.
When we feel our mood dip or anxiety rise there are 4 questions that help us regain our focus;
- Am I hungry?
- Am I overstimulated?
- Do I need sleep?
- Do I need exercise?
During this time our routines, and plans may be disrupted. The news is sobering. We have to respond with flexibility and agility. Do not underestimate the bonds that can be strengthened when we face challenges together. This is a chance for us to model to our children how to navigate life's uncertainties with calm, courage, and most importantly compassion.
Activities to help keep our minds busy
Try a baking project (or any cooking, really). Use cooking as a way to discuss measurement and fractions. Is a quarter of a cup of oil different than a quarter of a cup of sugar? How many quarter cups are needed for one cup? What would that same measurement be in grams?
After you've done all the measuring, then you can think about the chemistry of cooking. At what temperature does butter melt? Or water boil? You and your child can generate hundreds of questions and answers about math and science by the simple act of making cookies.
Then, once those cookies are made, there are all kinds of story problems! If everyone in the family gets an equal number of cookies, how many cookies does each person get? What about the ethical dimensions of cookie-making? Who should get the most? The person who cooks? Who cleans? Who buys the groceries? Or should everyone get an equal amount?
The best way to travel is to read. Share a book with your child. Talk about pictures, let them predict what will happen next, ask questions about the characters.
Go for a walk
Walk around the block. Walk and check on a neighbor. Even when it is chilly we can put a jacket on and get some fresh air. Our bodies need exercise and the benefits to our brains are excellent.
Work on a puzzle
Stimulate that brain! Work a word puzzle, or a box puzzle. You will be surprised how the activity will help all involved.
Did you know color impacts the brain? Sit and color with your child. When you work with different colors you will be surprised of the different discussions you have.
Food for thought
For every minute you are worried or stressed, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.