Parents of young children understand their pre-schoolers learn through play. Demographically, young children have been impacted less by the coronavirus situation than older children who’ve attended school, juggled after school activities, and participated in weekend sports.
Often days for toddlers and preschoolers revolve around the home. However, the pandemic has disrupted normal routines for young children, too. Parents can adapt these seven early childhood education tips for their home environment, to increase effectiveness and reduce stress during these challenging times.
1. Grab the peanut butter.
Young children are concrete thinkers. That means they understand what they can see and touch and taste.
Unless your child has heard media reports of hoarding and seen rows of empty shelves on television, your child probably isn’t as worried as you are about running out of food.
But the next time you open the pantry, casually comment, “We can make a lot of sandwiches with all that peanut butter.” Or, when you’re scooping ice cream, ask, “How many cones do you think we can get out of this container?”
Without mentioning any potential problems, these comments offer unspoken assurance to your child: “You are safe. I am doing many things to take care of you.”
2. Celebrate naptime.
Routines give a child (and us!) a sense of security.
Serve lunch at the same time your child normally eats. Put your child down for his regular nap. (You have permission to nap too!)
Even though your presence at home throughout the day might reflect a “new normal,” a preschooler must still pick up his toys. Although your kitchen table might function as your office now, a child still must drop dirty clothes in the hamper.
When life is disrupted, rituals remind us all of what stays the same.
3. Practice follow the leader.
A young child won’t care about the latest patient statistics in Lee County, he only wants to stuff grass into a plastic egg!
Don’t expect a young child to be worried or anxious about what is happening globally, nationally or regionally. Even if you feel completely engulfed in the pandemic, respect your child’s level of interest in current events.
4. Use mind-reading skills.
A young child won’t always be able to accurately describe how he’s feeling. For example, a three-year-old doesn’t know the best words to distinguish between sadness, anger, frustration, and boredom. You know your child: help him match words with feelings.
Take the time to really listen to your child then help him cope appropriately with emotions.
5. Click “off.”
Carefully monitor the media that your child sees.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we were reminded it is unhealthy for children to repeatedly see or be exposed to potentially frightening or unsettling images. If you’re a news junkie, engage privately.
6. Be an Honest Abe.
Your child might not yet read books, but he’s an expert at reading your emotions. Truthfulness is the foundation for the trust you’ve built with your child.
If your child asks about a television image, answer briefly. Speak to the point. “That machine is helping her breathe. Show me how you breathe all by yourself.”
Consider your child’s maturity when giving information or answering questions. Honesty does not always require a comprehensive or detailed response.
7. Give up distracted parenting.
Stay grounded in the moment. Disruptions swirl rapidly as news of the coronavirus continually change. Your child needs you to be totally present. You are his anchor.