Talking With Your Child About COVID-19 (and Other Big Topics)
COVID-19-Las Vegas Elementary School Innovation Academy

Advice from Innovation Academy Las Vegas Elementary

Las Vegas Elementary School | COVID-19

Firstly, the Innovation Academy team wants to extend a sincere hope of health to everyone in our community and beyond.

Secondly, we wanted to assure you that we are always maintaining high standards of hygiene at our Las Vegas elementary school. Strict adherence to cleanliness and sanitation are certainly always vital—especially at a food-allergy safe school like ours. That is to say, we have long prioritized practices that promote health and minimize risk to students, even before COVID-19. During this time of “social distancing” and other strategies intended to slow the spread of germs, these practices will continue.

Most importantly, we aim to be open in our communication with our school families to minimize confusion and anxiety. Federal, state, and local recommendations and guidelines are changing rapidly—sometimes within days or hours. Therefore, we cannot necessarily predict what tomorrow will bring for our school or community. That said, we will keep you up to date on the latest information as soon as we have any to provide.

Meanwhile, we have compiled some helpful advice for talking to your children about what is happening in the world today. The tips here, adapted from principles provided by the CDC, focus on discussing COVID-19. Of course, they can be applied more broadly to any significant and dramatic event that may cause worry in curious little minds.

Finally, we understand that many people are doing what they feel is best for their families. In the midst of these unsure times, those efforts take different shapes for different people. No matter how you are choosing to navigate daily life, we extend our sympathy and support.

Stay Calm

This is perhaps the most important bit of advice we can provide. Children look to the adults in their lives to learn how to approach the world and respond to it. Consequently, if they see worry or panic, they will worry and panic themselves.

Staying calm is certainly an important element of conversing with children about potentially difficult subjects. Young listeners very astutely pick up on body language, tone, and other subtle cues that augment what is being said.

Also, do not forget that children like to listen to adults conversing. Keep in mind who might be listening when you talk about viruses, national news, and other subjects with fellow adults.

Be Available

Establish early on that you are a readily available resource for your children. Let them know that you will listen to their concerns and answer honestly. During a busy morning or evening, it is easy to put off making time for children’s questions. If you do not have time to devote to active listening and conversation in the moment, assure your child you will soon. Make an “appointment” to sit with them and hear what they are saying. This might include questions about the disease itself, as well as worries about friends, family, and even pets.

In addition, it is a good idea to brush up on your own knowledge ahead of any such talks. The CDC has published child-friendly facts about COVID-19, available for reference. Topics include basic information about the virus, healthy habits, and common symptoms.

Monitor (and Limit) Media

As a Montessori school, we already recommend wise use of screens in and around the home. Nightly news, radio programs on car drives, and even headlines glimpsed on phones, laptops, or newspapers can all be sources of information. Unfortunately, they can also be sources of anxiety.

Try to give your child a healthy diet of information. Address their concerns, but also explore other subjects, topics, and happenings.

It is also no surprise that discussions in the media about just about anything can become political. Avoid connecting information about COVID-19 with anything polarizing, including race, immigration, political parties, and more. In other words, use good judgment.

Be Honest and Accurate

You do not need to explain the nuances of viral transmission to a 6-year-old. But you can explain why hand washing is important to prevent a disease’s spread.

As long as you are considering your child’s age and developmental level in sharing information, there is no need to “sugarcoat” anything. Certainly don’t scare anyone, but be honest about COVID-19: We are still learning about the virus. Doctors are working hard to understand it and develop ways to fight it and help people. It can make some people very sick, but children are generally fine. Having a cough or runny nose does not mean you definitely have COVID-19.

Above all, create a space for your child to feel safe. Practice hand-washing and other healthy habits. This is also a good time to limit social and other activities and focus on family time.

If you need any other tips, advice, or guidance, please feel free to call us. We are still here for our community and families.

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Las Vegas Elementary School | COVID-19