Experts from UNICEF share tips for teaching to have age-appropriate discussions to reassure and protect children
Schools and teachers play a vital role in sharing accurate information and science-based facts about COVID-19, to help diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the disease and support their ability to cope with any secondary impacts in their lives.
Here are some suggestions about how teachers can engage preschool students on preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. Any conversations or activities should always consider the specific needs of children, the guidance provided by your school, local and/or national authorities, and be based on reputable sources such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization:
- Focus on communicating good health behaviours, such as covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow and washing hands. See more on how to avoid the risk of infection here.
- One of the best ways to keep children safe from coronavirus and other diseases is to simply encourage regular handwashing, for at least 20 seconds. It doesn’t need to be a scary conversation. Sing along with The Wiggles or follow this dance to make learning fun. See more on handwashing here.
- Develop a way to track how children are washing their hands and find ways to reward them for frequent/timely hand washing.
- Use puppets or dolls to demonstrate symptoms (sneezing, coughing, fever), what to do if children feel sick (like if their head hurts, their stomach hurts, or if they feel hot or extra tired), and how to comfort someone who is sick (cultivating empathy and safe caring behaviours).
- When it’s circle time, have children sit farther apart from one another by practicing stretching their arms out or ‘flapping their wings’ – they should keep enough space between each other so that they are not touching their friends.
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