Families are facing the stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 together. Lisa Cantore, MA, CCLS, CEIM, certified child life specialist at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital shared some advice for families:

How should I talk to my kids about COVID-19?

As so much is changing daily with COVID-19, it may be difficult to have conversations with your children. None the less, it is important to reassure them by encouraging them to ask questions and share how they are feeling. It is OK if you do not know an answer. What is most important is that you continually remind them that you will keep them safe and that there are many people working around the clock to help prevent others from becoming sick.

How can I create a healthy and productive environment at home for my child?

It is crucial to limit how much you expose your child to hearing, reading, and watching media, so limit screen time. Also, consider your own self-care and limit yours too. Creating as much structure to their day is important. We understand that it may be challenging trying to juggle indefinite childcare with work responsibilities, but creating a weekday schedule that is what they are used to during their school day will help. Keep their morning routine the same. Wake up at the same time, eat breakfast and get dressed. Depending on their ages, create appropriate time slots and alternate structured time with free time.

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Activities for kids:

There are plenty of activities kids can try at home that will keep them engaged. Cantore says families can try the following:

  • Social Distancing Bingo: (PDF)
  • A Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of old toys or games that your children have not played with or items that you can share fun stories about -- like a souvenir from a vacation -- and search the house for them as a team.
  • I Spy: Start with finding something in your house with the letter A and move on to the next letter.
  • Make cookies or a healthy treat: You can incorporate math and talk about science with recipes.
  • Dust off old board games: It promotes turn-taking, counting and socialization.
  • Invent your own board game.
  • LEGO Master Challenge: Dump all the pieces from LEGO kits in a bin. Pick something for everyone to build in a set amount of time: A flower, a car, the sun.
  • Family reading time: Pick a chapter book you have at home or download one off the internet. Have everyone take a turn reading a page or chapter to encourage reading and learning new words.
  • Mad Libs! You can search the internet for templates or create your own. It’s a great way to reinforce grammar with your older school age children.
  • Feelings Chart: Have each child draw how they are feeling or copy one off of the internet and use daily as a means to check in to gauge how everyone is feeling.
  • Learn or practice yoga.
  • Create word finds or crossword puzzles: Older siblings can make ones for their younger brothers and sisters.
  • Camp In: Pull out your sleeping bags, flashlights and tell some stories by a fake camp fire.