I’m sure that many, if not all of you are aware that as of the 23rd of March, the UK is essentially on lockdown. This is a stressful and confusing time for many people but for parents or guardians of young children there is the added task of trying to not appear stressed or confused in front of your kids.
Trying to explain adult problems in a normal, everyday situation is difﬁcult enough - as I’ve learnt from living with a six year old, never mind trying to explain things that are going on in the world that you, yourself don’t fully understand.
Coronavirus or Covid-19 is something that has quite literally changed the world as we know it. The one thing that hasn't changed however is kids’ abilities to speak their minds and be brutally honest, my six-year-old sister after an attempt at home-schooling, declared that she was “bored of Coronavirus now”, which is something we can all probably relate to.
This outburst from her made me curious as to how children are being affected by it - something I feel has been overshadowed by multiple parents on social media asking for advice on home-school, then later complaining about home-schooling and feeling that teachers should be paid more after all.
Has anyone actually asked kids their views on it? Well, I attempted to and this is what I found out…
First of all, they do in some way understand whats going on and they want to know more. Children are naturally curious by nature so it only makes sense they want to know what is happening. Brendan,aged twelve spoke about how he's started watching the News with his mum, and he's not alone in this - more young people appear to be watching the News than ever have before. Brendan also spoke about having to stay at home, and whilst not being able to see his friends is frustrating, he’s making the most of this time and has learnt ﬁve new songs in two days on his guitar - his favourite being Back in Black by AC-DC.
Fionn, also aged twelve says that he knows what Coronavirus is “a deadly disease that is contagious.” When asked if he and his friends discuss the virus he said that “sometimes its discussed, we mostly talk about when we can go out again.” Fionn’s ten-year-old sister Erin is in Primary seven, as it is looking likely that schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year she isn't sure if she will see her Primary school friends again before moving on to Secondary school. When asked what she was looking forward to the most about this Pandemic being over, Erin replied “ seeing my friends and going out and being free.”
It is not just older kids like Brendan, Fionn and Erin who are aware of whats going on, children as young as two-year old Alyssa know about Coronavirus. In Alyssa’s words “…Coronavirus is on TV and it’s bad like a shark.” This shows how children’s minds work and the importance of helping them understand in a way that is familiar and relatable to them, what is going on in the world.
Rachel is a teacher and has had to remain in work to teach those kids whose parents are considered ‘key workers.’ Rachel also has a six-year-old son Jason, who now being out of school himself, has had to start going to work with her. She used a slideshow made by MindHeart.kids to explain what Coronavirus is to Jason. The slideshow characterises Coronavirus and tells a story of how it loves to travel the world. It also includes interactive activities for kids to participate in the story - such as drawing a picture of how they feel when they hear about Coronavirus.
Jack also aged six, is being home-schooled by his mum. They have been using the seesaw app, popular with many schools across Northern Ireland. He thinks its great, and loves showing his teacher all the work he's been doing at home. Jack has also been able to live stream his Tae Kwon do classes - this is a new, exciting way of learning things and for now, whilst using online resources to keep up to date with school work and activities is great, there are fears that the novelty of them may wear off.
Paula is also home-schooling her six-year-old Conor and her four-year-old Grace. She says that she has sat them both down and explained that a lot of people are “sick out there so we need to stay inside” and she has been trying to make days playful for them by doing different things such as playing new games and painting.
My own sister is ﬁnding keeping busy and active a challenge, she has however managed to stay in touch over FaceTime with her friends. She is aware of what Coronavirus is, as are her friends but on these FaceTime chats they don’t mention it - they continue to talk about their favourite shows or ‘youtubers’ and other than being stuck inside and not able to go to school they are ﬁnding familiarity and comforts in the midst of the unknown.
Children are aware of the situation - perhaps not in its extremity but they know that adults are worried about it. Making the circumstances understandable for kids is crucial and its not all doom and gloom - there are ways you can make the most of this awful situation. For example, its a great time to talk and explain to your kids the importance of family, you're spending every moment of every day together at the minute. You can play games, watch movies and read books to them all the while including them in whats going on news wise - children have their own unique perspective of Coronavirus, in years to come when they look back on their childhood a memorable part of it will be in this lockdown so it is important to make it comfortable and enjoyable if possible!