Starting Afresh

Sometimes the plainest things we see make us think of the most complex things. I saw plain white puzzle pieces for gifting – yes plain white puzzles pieces – no design and no marking. It looked so good. Inviting almost. Why?

The thread of connectivity

Thrift shop clothes. Antiques. Second hand furniture. Black and white photographs. People’s memories. Hand me down heirlooms. Trees we do not know who planted. Old jewellery. Court cases across international borders are battled over old paintings. We love such stuff. Old. Frequently personal. Valued. Beautiful. Vintage.

All this makes complete sense. We must keep the old for the future. These are the threads which connect the past to us.

The freshness of new things

Although, the old is frequently very valuable, one cannot help but appreciate a sprouting seed. Keeping creativity alive is easier with new ideas. A bawling infant can get us all tied up in knots, but we love and cosset them no end. The first line of a poem. The rudimentary sketch of a beautiful building. A ball of clay taking shape on a wheel. Fresh tomatoes and herbs which come together in a fragrant pasta sauce. Fabric which will become a beautiful garment. The sparkling conversation in a new friendship.

Make a list

This is a time of the year, when the new is around the corner. Leave the old behind for a minute. Take a fresh breath. Time to make a new list. Things you want to try. Changes you want to make. Think about something new you want to try. Or even a change you want to bring about. In yourself or others. Jot it down. The New year is for new beginnings. Try.

Hit refresh.

Handling exams
Gallery

Handling Exams

Examinations can be a testing time, pun intended. Since March this year, colleges and schools administrations have had it tough. The decisions have been many and difficult, given the Covid-19 cloud hanging over the health of students and staff. Empty hallways, locked gyms, parked buses, have all been common scenes through these months.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nathan-dumlao-ewgmqs2tmji-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

As exams have gone online along with classes, one wonders if the ‘school’ in Greek, skholē which meant ‘leisure, philosophy, lecture place’, makes sense any longer as the basis for our schools. Of course many schools and colleges are open and functioning as normally as possible. Whatever be the case, exam fever, with all the accompanying things that students do during exam time, is in the air as many colleges want to wrap up exams before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Four Tips for Handling Exams like a Pro

If you are in college, and have not been homeschooled, you are a pro at taking exams or at the least being assessed, because you’ve been taking them for years! You have been tested in subjects you have liked, disliked and hated. You are probably familiar with using online writing help. It’s just that the word exams conjures up dark horrors. Just like a bad dream can be made better by a familiar person in the room or some light or just waking up and gulping in familiar sights and sounds, the nightmare of exams, need not be one.

Always remember:

  • You are not the only one in the soup,look around. You are probably on class groups with a large number of people sailing the same boat, fearing imminent disaster. Listen to the conversation. Read between the lines. Everyone has fears. Of failing. Of having to retake an exam. Of what someone will say. Of what you might not get because of bad grades. When you listen you realize, that its okay to be afraid, to feel a tad underprepared even. You will get through this, because other kids before you have. In fact, you have.
  • Too Last Minute? Preparation works different ways for different brains. There are kids who who plough through a humongous amount of study at the last minute, and then there are those who are super-planners who prepare well in advance. Think back. Generally when have you performed best? When were you most relaxed. Find that space in between. Take a breath. Think back. You’ve got this, because you’ve done this innumerable times.
  • What Are Friends For? Call them. Message them. Just chatting about what tenses you up, will calm you down. A burden shared is halved as they say. By sharing your fears, you might be making your friend a tad more relaxed. as they see how common it is. In fact talk about other things too for a while to distract yourself.
  • Life Beyond Exams. Last but not the least, this too shall pass. Yes, exams come and they go. Yes, they go. The beauty of passing time is that there is a corner you can turn and the landscape might be different.

Exams can bring out the mood swings, fears, bad language, acne, sweats, sleeplessness, and a whole bunch of issues; never forget this can be reduced with preparation and understanding that you have done this many times.

You will plough through this too.

Positives of the Covid-19 situation

It’s funny how there are some positives that are emerging from the Covid-19 situation that has engulfed our world. Our ecology has really benefitted as industry and tourism halted. The canals in Venice cleared up, songbirds could be heard in the Bay area, animals reclaimed their spaces, and most importantly our air and water cleared up.

The Story Indoors

While all this happened outdoors, another interesting thing was happening indoors – where the humans were staying to be safe while keeping the learning going for their kids. Staying within a limited space and sharing limited resources for days and weeks on end, brought out the worst in people, as psychology essays would elaborate upon. Squabbles over TV, wi-fi, food, space, computers etc. became common.

But as time passed, families found a balance as the difficulty of being indoors reduced. They learnt to cope. Cooperative living crept in. Families learnt to share. Kids and adults thought up of ways to stay entertained. Instagram got crowded with pictures of food and DIY projects. Yes, there was immense pressure on adults who had to balance work and familial responsibilities. There were some who had the added responsibility of looking after parents.

The Juggling Act

Many families which could not afford to maintain separate homes for various reasons, turned into multigenerational homes. It was interesting to see how society had come full circle. In the 1950s people aspired for nuclear families, but this changed over decades, for various reasons.

Multigenerational homes have been good for all the generations. Yes, space and privacy morph, but then companionship and bonding increase. Kids learn about times and people gone by through their grandparents. They learn to accommodate older people who have problems with mobility. Interestingly it is a well documented fact that kids need bonding, cultural roots and unbounded love, all three of which are easy to get when grandparents are around.

For parents, it’s a juggling act – managing kids and parents. Interestingly in many families, when parents move in, they take over some of the chores, thereby lightening some burdens. As kids bond with their grandparents, they learn a lot about managing around older people who could have some health related issues. More importantly they understand that older people contribute in so many different ways. Their lived experience can translate into wonderfully rich experiences for their grandkids.

Three important traits

  • Empathy
  • Gratitude
  • Looking out for others

These three traits might sound simple, but they are key to a healthy family and society. Cooperative living at any level, needs space and understanding, but without these three traits, there is a loss of richness.

Wrapping Up

Funny how we were sure that the Covid-19 problem had just negativity around it, until we found the positives. Like the proverbial silver lining.

3 STEM Sources For Kids

Kids enjoy the outdoors. Especially younger kids. The sensory richness contributes to their all round development. It’s one of the best ways for instilling a very basic fact of nature that seems to miss most human beings as they grow up – we humans are very much a part of the natural ecosystem that we inhabit.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Although a young child’s brain is extraordinarily receptive, parents and caregivers need to ensure that they are exposed to a variety of rich inputs. With the deep disruption we have had in sour everyday lives because of the Coronavirus problem, many parents need to buttress their child’s inputs.

Here are three wonderful STEM sources, that will help parents enrich their child’s learning ecosystem:

  1. NationalGeographicKids: A place where kids can safely enjoy some of the outdoors brought indoors via games, quizzes and puzzles about the great outdoors.
  2. BiodiversityHeritageLibrary:  In 2006 a consortium of natural history libraries, including the Smithsonian came together to set this up. Sketches, illustrations and other artworks, some dating back to the 1400s, can now be downloaded free. It’s a great way to get a child interested in how the arts and the natural world can intersect. (An adult’s help would be required to explore this and its not the easiest website to negotiate, but it’s a great source)
  3. DesertMuseum: If you cannot go in person, enjoy a virtual visit. The activities, games and videos will fascinate younger kids. A wonderful place for kids to know that the desert is not deserted by nature. There is life but you need trained eyes to spot it.

Enjoy these resources, and tell us about others that you know of. It is thanks to such wonderful places that we can enjoy the great outdoors in times when many of us hesitate to go out to places which might be crowded.

Enjoy and stay safe!

5 Tips for Writing Better

Writing is an important skill and kids are encouraged to write in their own words from a young age. Most young people learn go through training to do some descriptive writing in high school or in their undergrad years. The problem with writing is this – it appears easier that it actually is. A lot of people think it’s an easy job to write; cook up words together and throw in some punctuation. 

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

Well, I would love a magical cauldron like that. Perhaps it could bubble on logs of knowledge and be made of an alloy of perseverance, patience and some ferrum(got to show off my Latin here!). I could have pantry staples like punctuation marks and grammar basics. Bags of grains/flours like words and legumes. White space could be my water. Other spices and herbs like phrases and proverbs. Articles could be by salt and sugar. I could pep it up with tangy emotions. I could go on and on, but my point is made I think. 

I would need a magical wand to wave. Perhaps the words would flow out and get served on my page. Fancy printer types. Or Harry Potter’s friend Ron’s mum type.

The Process of Writing

Writing is a process. 

Some start and just go on writing, till they reach the end. It’s like they had it written in their minds. 

There are others who research it and meticulously store it all in one place. As and when they progress they reference and write on. 

For many a writing prompt helps. A gentle nudge now and then gets them chugging on. 

Whatever the process, it is never easy. It is an exercise in creativity. It is even harder when you have to write something that you are not interested in, but have to, whatever be the reason. 

That is a challenge. So here are 5 writing tips which I think will help:

  1. Let the topic play around in the back of your mind. As and when you go about your day, let it simmer on the back burner, so to say. Throw in whatever pops into your head. Alternatively, sit and let your mind float free. When the first thought forms, jot it down. Then it’s like putting a garland together as other thoughts flow by. 
  2. Research the topic, read up other essays, and put all that you want into a document. Many students who need to write assignments do this. Once they gather the information, they find an interesting angle. Jot down interesting points and write an outline. This breaks down the topic into manageable chunks. 
  3. If you feel you need additional help, there are people who help you write better. They are like trainers, who shape your writing. Feedback is good, but Remember this rarely comes without an expense attached. Of course students might have access to free writing help(virtual or in-person) if their college has set up such a service in the writing center. 
  4. When you are really close to giving up, switch to doing something you are good at. Take a break. Read about how other successful writers reached their goal. (Keep the goals simple silly). If you are writing academic articles, take a break and write something frivolous. Play with your words. Have fun. Rejuvenate your mind.
  5. If you can get a spare of ears, nothing like it. Especially if they are empathetic. Read aloud and see if your work makes sense to them. When you read aloud, many things come into focus – flow, poor sentence construction, wrong choice of words, unending sentences and paragraphs, and a flatness to the text. 

You might not need all these tips. Some bits might help. Throughout our writing lives, we finetune our writing process. Even accomplished writers go to writing retreats and use additional help that might be available. 

Legendary poet and wit Dorothy Parker knew it made complete sense when she quipped, “Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.” It implies that we have to get to it and do this everyday. Sit and write. Sit and write. Sit and write. Well there are those who planted their feet firmly, stood and wrote, like Charles Dickens, Lewis Caroll and Hemingway.  Then I would say – stand firm and write. 

Use the tips others offer, but find what works for you. It’s not easy, but stay at it until you find it. 

Have a tip? Share it! 

 

Keeping Creativity Alive

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

Staying creative year on year for teachers teaching the same grades can be challenging, especially now when teachers are keeping the learning going in the midst of this Covid-19 situation. The pressures are innumerable –

  • Learning new technology
  • Keeping students engaged while there might be no visual
  • Getting a discussion going in class
  • Assessing students
  • Handling parental interference
  • Designing homework

This list just skims the surface. As school administrators debate in-person vs. remote classes, teachers have their own set of worries. In schools where an option has been given, some kids might come to school, while others attend remote classes. Class can get a tad tech heavy – will the teacher be able to give attention to the pupil? Will the student pay attention to the teacher through the web of technology?

Staying creative

In a way, parents, teachers, technology providers, students and administrators have to collectively come up with ideas to keep the schooling on track. It’s not going to be easy – the first thing to take a beating will be attention. In a class with the teacher around, attention can wander; sitting at home and attending a remote class looking at a teacher who might be distracted by her scattered class and the tech she’s using – holding attention can just get harder.

From the pod schools for well off kids to kids who move to a relative’s for internet connection, every kid needs help at this juncture. Teachers however stretched need to get creative to hold the attention of their students. Here are four suggestions for teachers to stay creative:

  1. Create a class website and get kids to contribute: Not easy, but once kids are on board and get comfortable, more kids will stay involved.
  2. Create groups: That’s not the end, get the groups to create something interesting, that the whole class will attempt either in a class or as a project. Again involvement will not be the same from every kid, but the probability that they will is quite high. Use breakout rooms for small group discussion.
  3. Keep the class routine: If a class has a routine of celebrating birthdays or having lunch in a different way, do it here too. As a teacher, you might have to rope in the parent(s) (might not always be willing), but if it works out, its good for kids to have a feel of school. Come up with games which kids can play together but on their own with the camera on. Using a timer occasionally might make it more interesting. You could get kids to use props for some classes. Like have a Math class from old Greece. Kids could wrap a toga!
  4. Imitation is the best form of flattery: If a fellow teacher has a plan which is working well, discuss and use the same tricks. Or teachers can switch to refresh the content. Mix two subjects to make something more interesting. While teaching history, introduce the geography of that place to discuss things like what people ate during those times.

It is all about letting a class be a class in this virtual world. It will not be the same, but a teacher’s got to do what a teacher’s got to do – get creative in keeping the creativity alive!

 

 

 

How to study for AP English Language and Composition – 7 Useful Tips

“2015/365/19 It is Time to Write” by Alan Levine is licensed under CC0 1.0

As a high school student in America, taking an English class for four years is par for the course. And if you’re somebody who enjoys the subject, there’s good news for you. The AP English Language and Composition course lets you pursue college-level coursework and earn college credit in high school. Also, you won’t have to take too many English classes when you’re in college. Sounds like a good idea? Here is a comprehensive guide to help you prepare thoroughly for the exam and ace it. Keep reading!

First things first

The AP Language and Composition course is far more challenging than a regular high school English class and it’s nearly impossible to pass if you don’t know how to study for it.

The exam is not merely a test of your reading comprehension skills; it is an opportunity for students to develop skills such as rhetorical analysis, master the art of information synthesis and the ability to craft well written, logical arguments. You are expected to understand the various ways in which authors construct effective arguments, the tools they use to do so and learn how to use these tools to create analytical or persuasive essays of your own.

AP English Language and Composition Exam Format

The test consists of two parts: the first 60-minute section consists of 45 multiple-choice questions divided into five sets, each based on one or more passages. About 23-25 questions test students’ rhetorical skills, while the other 20-22 are composition questions where students are required to revise the given texts. The second 135-minute free response section starts with a 15-minute reading session, followed by 120 minutes of writing where students are required to write three analytical essays. You have about 40 minutes per essay but you can structure the allocated time as you wish. One essay requires students to synthesize a variety of texts to craft a logical, well-reasoned argument. One essay calls for a rhetorical analysis of a nonfiction passage. One essay should be an original argument in response to a prompt.

Study Tips for AP English Language and Composition 

  1. Gather your Material

The best way to start is to review works included in your course syllabus and those introduced by your instructor. Look for additional materials such as other works by authors included in your syllabus. Exploring genres such as opinion essays, famous speeches, classic arguments of Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Plato and op-ed pages of newspapers and news websites is likely to pay off too. Below are some free online resources to give you a head start:

AP Reading List

Free Essays, Term Papers, Research Paper, and Book Report

Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century

2. Be Your Own Teacher

Making a 5 on the AP English Language and Composition exam largely depends on your ability to teach yourself the material. Your teacher does not have time to cover every last detail of the content in the hour or so they have every day. Moreover, there’s no guarantee you will grasp every concept you’re taught in the classroom. So when keeping up with the class becomes a daunting project, you have no option but to research the topic on your own. The internet has loads of explainer videos and articles that clarify difficult concepts; you only have to dig a bit to find whatever you’re looking for.

3. Take and Score Practice Tests

This will help you familiarize yourself with the material and scoring methodology. To get the most out of your practice tests, replicate the test conditions, set time limits and cut off access to supportive material. If you’re unable to complete a section within the allotted time, set it aside and return to it later. Try and keep the practice test conditions exactly as they would be for the actual exam. Take a break between sections to recharge yourself. Scoring the multiple-choice section is easy but you must examine your answers to help guide your study and to connect the question with the answer in order to reinforce the connection. It is important to maintain your objectivity while scoring your essays, but if you feel this is too difficult, consider asking a friend or instructor for help. To gain further insight into the scoring process, check out College Board Guidelines at

AP English Language and Composition Exam Scoring Guidelines, 2016

4. Avoid missing classes

It is very difficult to keep up with your AP course content if you miss a class. You are also likely to get behind on assignments, which is likely to add to your already high stress levels and have a significant impact on your understanding concepts that will be covered in the exam. Just showing up in class will pay off in the form of a better score in the end of the year exams.

5. Organise a Study Group

This is one of the most effective ways to study for the AP English Language and Composition exam. Each member of the group brings something new to the table; learning different points of view on the subjects covered in the exam will boost your knowledge and help you approach each question from different angles.

6. Try different review methods

Do you prefer to work in a group or alone? Try to recreate conditions in which you are able to review the material most successfully and vary review methods periodically. Mix up various study techniques to keep things interesting and prevent burnout. For instance, try using flashcards when memorizing vocabulary, then switch to another (such as summarizing essays) when tackling free response questions. Try and revisit content and identify areas that need more attention. Strengthen these areas with extra practice and ask your instructor or a friend for help if needed. Find a study partner who can help you focus on the subject and will provide moral support. Lastly, it is important to identify a place where you can study without distractions – try different rooms at home, or a coffee shop or the library.

7. Manage your stress

Studying for the AP English Language and Composition can be highly stressful. And feeling nervous is normal. But if your anxiety is making it difficult for you to focus and affecting on your overall performance, this is what you need to do to keep stress at a minimum:

Before the test

Eat a balanced diet throughout the year and make sure you’re well rested, especially in the week before the exam. Keep yourself hydrated to stay healthy and focused.

During the test

Many AP candidates experience intense feelings of stress and anxiety during the test. Use these time-tested relaxation techniques to get back on track:

  • Focus on positive thoughts
  • Pause and relax your body at regular intervals
  • Breathe deeply
  • Read the questions/instructions carefully
  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back to the ones you had trouble with when you have time
  • Treat stress as a stimulant and use it to spur you on, instead of allowing it to paralyse you

After the test

This is the moment you put the entire experience out of your mind. Instead of worrying about answers you cannot change, focus on productive strategies you can employ to get the best possible score in future.

Here is a useful resource for managing stress:

Overcoming Test Anxiety in High School

With a bit of foresight and planning, studying for AP English Language and Composition can be a lot easier than you thought.

 

How to Increase Parent Engagement in School – During COVID -19 and After

The United States has witnessed an unprecedented disruption of education due to widespread school closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While most schools have elected to conduct online classes during this time, they must also take steps to ensure that parents remain as involved as ever in their child’s education. Educators have long been aware of the correlation between strong parental involvement and student success. And while schools cannot force parents to get involved in their child’s education, they can certainly encourage and facilitate it.

Parent Teacher Meeting

_D3N1034_fix_6x4_b” by Innovation_School is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Fortunately, we live in a digital age that offers a variety of tools to connect schools, parents and teachers, lockdown or no lockdown. Here are some innovative ways to spark (and maintain) parental involvement in school.

Embrace the internet

One of the best ways to promote parent engagement is to get parents to share their stories and experiences in a dedicated parent blog. This could be enhanced with social media presence and an event calendar that keeps busy parents in the loop. This encourages communication and forges connections between parents as they work with the school to create an online community. While Facebook groups are a popular social media platform for parent engagement, you could also try other outlets such as Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, basically whatever medium parents are most comfortable with.

Use social media to post links to your blog, calendar, announcements and other important information. Post pictures from your latest event (in a pre or post-COVID-19 world) on Instagram so parents can see what they missed and let them know how they can be more involved next time. With a large number of parents working from home during this time (and also spending time on social media sites), implementing a concerted social media outreach plan is bound to pay off. Remember – schools + online communication tools = greater parental involvement.

Another interesting (and underused) way of reaching out to parents is via online videos on your school website. Here, parents and teachers can exchange ideas, provide guidance and offer feedback about assignments or areas where a child may need extra help.

Parent Surveys

Parents are more likely to be involved in school if they feel their opinions are valued and their feedback can be surprisingly insightful. Send out parent surveys at regular intervals (beginning of the school year, after each quarter/semester). A good survey will generally contain a judicious mix of multiple-choice questions as well as free response questions that give parents the space to express their opinions. A short 5 or 6 question survey is enough to pique parents’ interest in important school decisions and spark a conversation in your online community. It could even make parents more involved in the outcome and prod them to attend meetings and be more involved in planning committees. Use services like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to create and disseminate surveys; email, social media or the school website work well for outreach. Here are a few sample topics you can put in a parent survey: classroom goals/expectations, dates for school activities, methods of contact, volunteer opportunities for parents, concerns or suggestions, etc.

Do’s and Don’ts for Improving School-Parent Communication

  • Provide clear direction to teachers on which tools to and define protocols regarding communication with parents.
  • Keep communication brief but frequent to keep parents updated on a regular basis.
  • Offer parents the option to personalize the information they wish to receive as well as the method of delivery. This keeps all communication relevant and prevents information overload.
  • Provide actionable information that parents can use to support or prepare their child for class assignments, extra-curricular activities or special events.
  • Find opportunities to communicate positive news along with regular updates regarding homework assignments, daily schedules, upcoming events, etc.
  • Reach out to parents to share information about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, the kind of support system available to the child and any relevant information that may impact their behavior in the classroom.

To sum up, communication between schools and parents is the glue that helps bind (and nourish) a thriving school community, especially during these difficult times. While most schools in the U.S. had already embraced online methods of parental involvement (as opposed to twice-a-year PTA meetings), the current pandemic has forced schools to hastily adapt to the realities of social distancing and hand sanitizers.

How to Keep the Learning Going in the Midst of COVID-19 – Online Education Options for All Grades

Online Learning

Child on Tablet” by StockSnap is licensed under CC0

As COVID-19 spreads like wildfire within the United States and across the globe, normal life has nearly come to a standstill. Educational establishments, where the risk of spreading the coronavirus is very high, have been forced to go online at short notice. One of the top challenges faced by school district leaders in the U.S. is to find ways to make online learning accessible to all their students.

Parents certainly have their work cut out trying to cope with this unparalleled disruption of education and making sure their child does not miss out on learning. As someone who’s passionate about both education and technology, I have put together a (non-comprehensive) list of websites that offer useful (and free) learning resources for grades K-12.

Education.com (K-5)

This popular website has loads of printable worksheets, online games, guided lessons, hands-on activities, song videos lesson plans for 3-10-year olds and a lot of them are free. The layout is attractive and kid-friendly, while the material is designed by experienced educators and aligned with Common Core standards. A premium membership allows parents to track their kids’ progress with a report card and participate in their challenges and triumphs.

123 Homeschool 4 ME (K-8)

If you’re looking for free printables (games, worksheets, hands-on activities) to keep your child busy (and learning), this website has you covered. They have over a million pages featuring a wide range of subjects such as alphabet recognition, tracing uppercase and lowercase letters, phonemic awareness, math, English and language arts, history and geography. If COVID-19 has turned you into a reluctant homeschooling parent, the website has tons of great articles to help you get started on this new journey.

Age of Learning (Preschool, pre-k, K-5)

Schools closed by the coronavirus pandemic can now get free home access to popular online education platforms ReadingIQ, ABCMouse and Adventure Academy, thanks to the Age of Learning School Continuity Initiative.  ABCMouse is a comprehensive online curriculum for pre-k and K-2 levels with thousands of activities covering math, reading, art, social studies, science and music. Adventure Academy is an educational massive multiplayer online (MMO) game for elementary and middle school kids. ReadingIQ is an online library and literacy platform for young children.

Big History Project (Grades 6-12)

If your child is in middle or high school, the Big History Project is a great way to invoke their curiosity and creativity with a comprehensive social studies curriculum that builds critical thinking and writing skills. This free online course encourages students to look beyond facts and draw connections between past, present and future, along with a greater understanding of history and the origins of mankind. All lessons on BHP are easily accessible and customizable and regularly evaluated and updated.

BlockCAD (Grades 9-12)

BlockCAD offers a specialized 3D computer-aided drafting (CAD) software for middle school and high school students to help build their math and computer skills. Students can build and manipulate 3D objects using their computational thinking and geometry skills on a block-based coding platform. The curriculum is comprehensive and offers detailed lesson plans. BlockCAD integrates well with Google Classroom and works with all devices.

Boardmaker (Special Needs children)

Boardmaker is one of the best online learning resources for visual learners or children with autism spectrum disorders, speech and language disorders, behavioural disorders or Downs syndrome. The website offers a large collection of standardized picture symbols and other social and emotional learning tools such as books, software and visual schedules. They also have a thematic series of activity units that are free to download, copy or print. The Boardmaker tools are designed to create a feeling of calmness and positivity.

How to Calm your Child’s Fears about COVID-19

 

The coronavirus

representation of the coronavirus” by Lucbyhet is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended people’s lives in myriad ways and families are scrambling to cope with the changes. The world has become a scary, unrecognizable place where school closures, telecommuting, social distancing and hoarding toilet paper have become the new normal. It’s a lot to navigate for anyone, especially kids who are likely to experience some amount of fear and anxiety as the adults around them struggle to cope with the coronavirus. As a parent and/or caregiver, one of the best things you can do is to ease children’s concerns with age-appropriate information and reassure them that they are safe. Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Prepare yourself
  • Knowledge is power. The best way to conquer your own stress is to stay updated with the latest information without being overwhelmed. Stick to reliable sources of information such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Facts are often helpful in quelling anxiety in adults as well as children.
  • An anxious child is unlikely to be calmed by an anxious parent. Kids are quick to pick up on the feelings and attitudes of their elders, so before talking with them, discuss your own fears and uncertainty with your therapist or other adults.
  1. Find out what they already know
  • Your child may have heard something about this new illness from their friends or teachers. Ask age-appropriate questions in a calm manner to learn how much they know about COVID-19 and to find out if they have been misinformed. If your kids are older, guide them to reliable online resources for information about the virus lest they fall prey to news sources that peddle incorrect or outdated data.
  • Some parents choose to follow the child’s lead. Your child may have a lot of questions and it’s important to address them. Other kids, particularly younger ones, may seem uninterested in the discussion and not show much curiosity. If so, it’s perfectly okay to discuss the basics and then let well enough alone. While answering their questions, don’t offer more detail than necessary. For instance, if your child asks why they can’t meet their friends, answer the question honestly but don’t raise the topic if it doesn’t come up.
  1. Be Positive – but Honest

As a parent, you should focus on making your child feel safe without compromising on the truth. Explain that most people who catch the virus feel like they have a cold or the flu but because the virus is highly contagious most people have to stay home to avoid passing it on to others. If your child has questions that you’re unable to answer, feel free to check the CDC website together for up-to-date information without encountering gory headlines about coronavirus deaths.

  1. Address their Anxiety
  • Let your child know that feeling stressed and fearful at times is okay, but emphasize that bad times pass and life eventually gets back to normal. This helps children build resilience and the confidence to face life’s challenges.
  • Very often, children worry more for their loved ones than for themselves. If your child hears that the coronavirus pandemic is more likely to affect elderly people, they might worry about their older relatives. Let them Skype or talk with Grandpa or Grandma so they can feel reassured about them.
  • Show your children that people are working hard to stop the pandemic and keep the world safe. Read together about how hospitals and doctors work to treat sick people and how scientists are working round the clock to develop vaccines and medications to combat the virus. Make them understand how soap/sanitizers kill the virus and why social distancing can actually prevent the pandemic from spreading. This helps your child feel in control.
  • The mainstream media is filled with stories of people dying of COVID-19. If your child has been worrying about this, it is important to put the news in context and also stringently filter what they see and hear. Explain that, despite what they have heard, the chance of people dying of the virus is very rare.
  1. Be a good role model

Eating healthy, exercising, getting lots of sleep, regular hand washing, keeping one’s surroundings clean and, above all, maintaining social distance can keep the coronavirus at bay. It is important for parents to model the good habits they want their children to adopt in order to beat the pandemic.