The whole world is dealing with the Corona crisis and this also applies to childcare and education. How can you deal with this in the group, when the child care centers and (pre)schools re-open? Local centres for disease control or advisory organizations provide information about medical aspects, but what about the pedagogical side?
Should you talk about it?
Corona is the talk of the day, at work, at home and in the supermarket. This means that children (unconsciously) hear a lot about this. Although young children don’t understand everything, they do feel the concern amongst the people who talk about it. If you want to talk about it with a colleague, it is better to do this when you are not in the group. Children are great at picking up non-verbal cues, such as your facial expression or body position. So, if it does come up in the group, be as honest as possible.
Improved hygiene in the group
One of the most important measures communicated is to wash your hands more often. This can be quite a hassle with young children. With the following tips it may become a little easier:
- Take your time! Children often find it fun and interesting to ‘play with water’, so keep that in mind and give them this opportunity.
- Make it fun! For example, sing a “hand washing” song or count all the fingers you wash together. This way you can ensure that children wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Set a good example! If you have a positive attitude, it affects the children as well.
- Do a “messy” activity where children can play with water, soap and possibly special (body) paint.
Furthermore, explain to children why hand washing is important (for example see this video), and try to teach children how to sneeze and cough in their elbow. Set a good example. You are probably already paying more attention to keeping the group and the materials clean. Involve the children in cleaning. Often they like this a lot! For example, you can assign children as “helpers”, so that everyone can be a “helper” from time to time.
Other activities in the group
In the group, children usually play closely together. That doesn’t have to be a big deal, but if you want to reduce intensive and close contact between children, you can come up with new activities. Be creative and think about new possibilities. Some examples are:
- Have children spread out across the group (at least an arm’s length away) and put on music. As long as the music is playing, they are allowed to move and dance on the spot. But… when the music stops, you stand still like a statue. Almost all children enjoy doing this, and it is also good for the development of their self-regulation.
- Set out a course with all kinds of materials (such as hoops, river stones, a bench/stool, beam, ribbon etc.) that children can walk through one after another (with enough distance).
- Play a game of “imitate me”. Have children spread across the group and ask them to imitate you. For example, you can jump, squat, move with your hands, arms, or feet. When the children understand the game, one of the children can take the lead.
Activities around being sick
Although you do not have to make a direct connection with the coronavirus, you can pay attention to ‘being sick’. For example, you can set up a hospital with some doctor’s stuff and dolls and bears that can be cured. If children can make people, dolls, or bears better in their fantasy play, it can help them cope with the situation. Support children to take on the role of patient or doctor.
On YouTube you can find animated clips about being sick, for example Miffy who has the flu. There are also children’s books about being sick, for example:
- Miffy is sick
- Peppa Pig: George catches a cold
- Bear feels sick
Setting a good example
The current situation is new and unknown territory for everyone. We can only try to make the best of it. Remember that as a professional you are a great example for children! Children will copy a good example. There are definitely challenges for all professionals, but let’s not forget the pedagogical value of childcare and education!