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Talking to Preschoolers About COVID-19

Today’s post is from Katie Denton-Walls, a preschool educator at the Early Learning Center in the East Classroom. Katie has been in her position at the ELC for 9 years. She is currently teleworking from home with her husband and 2 dogs.


Katie recorded a short video about talking to preschool aged children about COVID-19, but if you would prefer to read the text, you can find it under the video. There are also helpful resources included below. We hope you all are well and, as always, please reach out if we can help!


Right now we are experiencing a whole new way of life, and with it comes a great deal of uncertainty and stress. Children are experiencing this too as they hear news reports and adult conversations, try to learn what it means to stay home for days while their parent is still working, and feel the stress adults are experiencing internally as they try to balance everything. With all of this going on it is important that we think carefully about how to talk to children about the situation with COVID-19 in a way that is both honest and emotionally supportive. Here are some suggestions gathered from multiple sources that take into account the developmental level of preschool age children, as well as the ways in which they might be feeling (links at the end if you are interested in reading the full sources).

Stay calm: Children pick up as much from your nonverbal cues as they do from your words. Reinforce that you and your family are doing what you need to do to stay safe and healthy.

Be available: Your children may need some extra attention and affection as they sort through their emotions and/or fears. Be sure to listen to their concerns and validate their feelings.

Be honest: Providing your children with the facts in an appropriate way is key. Without information children are likely to imagine that the situation is worse than the reality. Explain why hygiene practices and social distancing are important right now to help people stay healthy.

Limit outside information: Information shared via TV or social media is likely to be made for adults, not children. Information through these platforms may be presented in a way that causes fear or confusion for your child.

Watch for signs of fear and anxiety: Young children often communicate these emotions through behaviors rather than words. Some common signs are; irritability, sleeplessness, and changes in appetite.

Maintain a routine: Routines are important for young children; they help children know what to expect and how to meet the expectations of the given situation. While your routine will likely be different than it was, it is important to develop and maintain one.

Resources: (this one also has links to PBS content for kids about germs, hand washing, etc.)