Topic 3 Informing students about pandemics and other global crises based on their developmental stage

It is important that educators inform students (and their parents) about the Covid- 19 pandemic, answer questions & help them process worries. Key points can include:

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    Covid-19 is a sickness, similar to the flu but much less common; most people who get it do not become very sick
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    Children and teens who get the virus generally have only mild to moderate symptoms and recover without any need for medical care from a doctor’s office or hospital
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    Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, so schools are closed to prevent a lot of people from getting sick all at once
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    We don’t know when schools will re-open, but when they do, school stuff will help students adjust. Students all around the world are out of school, you are not alone & you will not be behind other students
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    It is normal to have different feelings at once- excited to be out of school, sad not to see teachers or friends, disappointed that events are cancelled, worried about what will happen next, bored at home, concerned about relatives

How to talk to children 6 to 12 years old- Consider the below key points:
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    Children should have opportunities for social support- it is critical for getting through difficult experiences
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    If they feel cut off from social networks & experience confusion, stress, worry, disappointment, encourage them to leave the house when possible to see/meet other community members
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    Suggest ways to connect with classmates, friends & relatives every day e.g. through phone or video call, sending letters, emails or text messages
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    Validate their experiences- it is normal to experience excessive energy, frequent crying or separation anxiety during the pandemic. If these issues persist for more than 2 weeks inform the family
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    Let them ask you questions
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    Talk about the connection they now share with millions of kids around the world. They truly are all in this together, and this moment will be in history books

How to talk to teenagers 12 to 18 years old- Consider the below key points:

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    Encourage pupils to maintain links with their social network- it is important to connect with their peers & family on a daily basis
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    Reassure them that it is a common to find it difficult to concentrate, miss the way things were, feel sad for not seeing people, concern about relatives, disappointment about events being cancelled, boredom & loneliness
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    Discuss how to practice self care: maintain a structure in your day is important. Knowing how the day will go can help get through it more easily
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    Staying active is one of the most effective ways to stay mentally healthy during this uncertain time and to cope with worry, sadness & isolation
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    Make time for mental rest- even 5 minutes a day of relaxation practice can help reduce stress, boost concentration & improve sleep

Coping with worried thoughts

  • When we are under stress, our brain often has more worried thoughts than usual. You may notice that your mind is racing or gets stuck on little things that didn’t previously bother you. Having a lot of worried thoughts can lead to feeling jittery, uneasy and on edge
  • When faced with stress or uncertainty, our brains are designed to focus on warning signs of danger. This “fight, flight” or “freeze” response increases our heart rate and makes us feel uneasy and tense. One way to feel better is to identify the source of our anxiety, and use careful thinking skills to calm back down. You can help pupils learn to recognise worried thoughts and focus on more positive, helpful thoughts instead- below a table with examples of worried thoughts and how to respond to them