Other resources on Covid-19 and mental health and wellbeing
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world, toymaker Playmobil has launched a video to help children understand and learn about the outbreak. The five-minute-long video, which is titled “ROBert explains the coronavirus to children”, uses the company’s colourful set pieces and familiar, comforting characters to relay information to children who might have questions or are feel anxious about the current situation.
The short film is narrated by Playmobil’s robot figure ROBert, who guides children through the facts in a non-frightening way, explaining why they have to stay inside, wash their hands more often and cannot go to school. The video also gives children ideas of ways they can spend their time at home to ensure they still have fun, including listening to music and podcasts, making crafts, reading books and watching movies. It also explains social distancing and the measures everyone must follow to help slow the spread of the virus such as not touching your face and sneezing and coughing into your elbow.
A book created by a nurse to help ease children’s fears about the coronavirus outbreak has proved a hit, and has already been downloaded more than 15,000 times.
The free picture book, Dave the Dog is Worried about Coronavirus, features a dog named Dave relaying his anxieties about coronavirus to an owl named Dotty, who is a nurse.
Author Molly Watts, a staff nurse on the paediatric intensive care unit at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said she wrote the book because she wanted to provide information that was factual and child-friendly.
The Story helps parents to start talking about coronavirus with their children.
You may already be aware of these, but below are the following resources on supporting children and young people’s, parents’ and carers’ and schools and college staff’s mental health and wellbeing during the Covid-19 outbreak:
- The Anna Freud Centre has put together a document Supporting schools & colleges: A guide to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils and students during periods of disruption which we hope will give some guidance about how to maintain children’s wellbeing at a time of uncertainty. We’ve also developed three videos, one for school staff, one for parents and one for children and young people which we hope will be useful. Information on supporting staff wellbeing can also be found here.
- World Health Organisation advice on helping children cope with stress and on mental health considerations in COVID-19 (attached, with the section on parents and carers of children and young people highlighted in the latter).
- Good Thinking website for adults looking for resources to support their mental health and wellbeing: https://www.good-thinking.uk/
- Blogs on the Young Minds website for young people on managing anxiety about the outbreak and self-isolating: https://youngminds.org.uk/
Growth Mindset and Wellbeing resources:
Supporting children and young people
Our new, free Supporting Schools and Colleges booklet provides advice and guidance for school staff about how to help children and young people manage their mental health and wellbeing during times of disruption to their learning.
We recognise that many children and young people will have questions and concerns about the current coronavirus pandemic. With constant news, social media and a high level of uncertainty, children and adults will probably be feeling more stressed at the moment. Children may have questions, behave differently or appear more upset and it can be difficult to know what to say.
Talking to children and young people about coronavirus
- Not knowing what to say is ok - Remember this isn't a normal situation. There are lots of unknowns right now and we will be in situations that none of us have had experience of.
- Be honest and factual - It's a good idea to give children factual information. This might mean checking current UK advice and guidance so that you are aware of the current situation. Sometimes if there are gaps in a child's understanding of something, they can fill these gaps with their imagination, which has a tendency to suggest things are worse than they are!
- Give children the opportunity to explain their understanding - This will help you to spot if a child or young person has misunderstood something, or is thinking the worst.
- Remember your child's age - Adjust the amount and detail of information according to your child's age. Too much information can be overwhelming. Try to answer the questions they ask.
- Try to manage your own worries - If you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try not to have a conversations about Coronavirus at that time. Children will pick up on your anxiety in the moment, and it may heighten their own emotional reactions. It's OK to feel worried, but check in with yourself first - are you in the right space to have this conversation?
- Give practical and specific guidance - Explain how viruses are spread, and help children to understand that they can do things to help. Learn how to wash your hands together, explain how soap is effective against viruses, sing a song while you wash your hands.
Additional resources to support conversations with children and young people
What is Coronavirus? - Help Children Understand
The Coronavirus pandemic presents additional challenges for children and young people as they adapt to new social distancing measures. To help parents, carers and professionals explain Coronavirus to children we're sharing age appropriate resources to help reduce heightened levels of anxieties for young people.
To support different forms of learning, we have prepared: a short animation, a story book and an activity that supports you to tackle misinformation and help children understand Coronavirus.
Corona Virus Information for Young Children
Useful PDF for use with Primary School children (31/03/2020)
Self Care for Children and Young People
Our self-care resource for On My Mind has many simple self-care activities which young people can do at home. Written by young people to help other young people who are feeling low or anxious. The strategies should also be useful to adults.
Supporting children during school closures
- Expect things to feel a little more stressed - It unusual for families to spend extended time in close proximity to each other and it may be stressful at times.
- Try to have a routine - Routines and predictability can lower stress levels. We all like to know what is going to happen during a day and children are no different. Perhaps create a daily routine together so that there is some consistency.
- It's OK if the routine wobbles - Homes just aren't as structured as schools are and so it's normal for the routine to slip a bit. If creating and sticking to routine is causing more stress than it's worth, then its OK to be more free flow.
- Don't try to replicate school - Home is home, school is school. It would be unrealistic to try to recreate a whole school timetable at home. Most children and young people will not want to do this, and pushing this is likely to lead to tension and conflict.
- If children are working at home, try to keep work in one place - It's important to have a home-work boundary. Is there a specific place where children can do their work and then keep it safe? If there isn't a specific space, then perhaps encourage children to mark that work has finished e.g. tidying up and dancing to a song!
- Help children communicate with their friends - Use Skype groups calls or WhatsApp.
- Limit access to constant news streams - It can be tempting to have the news on the TV, Radio or Social Media all the time but such a barrage of information can be stressful for children. Set yourself times to catch up with the news, and then you can share the key points and highlights with children.
"Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much" (Helen Keller)
Activity for Secondary Schools and Colleges (12-18 year olds)
InvestIN was founded on the premise that young people should be excited about the future; a future that they can shape themselves, if they are just given the right time and attention by successful people who want to inspire others.
Amidst the problems caused by Covid-19, we must do all we can to empower the next generation to take ownership over their futures.
InvestIN therefore calls upon all ambitious young people to join our 'Compassion and Action Movement'.
We invite students aged 12-18 to deliver the most inspiring and creative message of hope they can muster. For each entry we receive, we shall make a donation to the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. By contributing to our movement you will therefore help improve both mental and physical health, through messages of hope and assistance to experts who are working tirelessly to find solutions.
Students can enter now by clicking here. The deadline for entries is 5pm on Sunday April 5th.
Students' entries can be in any form: a video, mood board, poem, piece of art - whatever allows them to best express themselves! Entries should be based on a theme of 'Compassion and Action.' Our judges will select a shortlist of the best ones. We will then compile a 'Compassion and Action' collage of these winning entries, which will be circulated to more than 300,000 teachers, parents and students globally, with the names of the winners fully-credited.
Suggested daily plan for primary school children at home with parents / carers during school closures
(thanks to Swindon Village Primary School)
Resources and activities for primary children, while school is closed
First of all, our SCARF online resources remain open to you throughout school closures. So please feel free to make use of them if they can support your take-home packs for children.
We're also working hard now to create a whole new page on our website, dedicated to providing children with regular activities to support their physical and emotional health at this time of great uncertainty and change.
Harold – our happy, healthy giraffe mascot and a favourite with children – will be posting a daily blog: Harold's Daily Diary! Here's the link to it: https://www.coramlifeeducation.org.uk/harolds-daily-diary
Each day he'll be giving children positive, fun messages about what he's doing to stay happy and healthy while he's off school, separated from his friends. He'll invite the children to join in with activities he's doing.
He'll be giving children ideas for how he – and they – can get a routine going for their day, including the things we all need to do to live a balanced, healthy life. These include:
- Taking regular exercise
- Being creative
- Helping others
- Connecting with others – in ways that are safe
- Mindfulness – learning to enjoy the moment, here and now.
We know that having a routine and structure will be very important to all of us at this challenging time. For children, in particular, routines help to provide a sense of security that will help a lot at this time of uncertainty.
We're going to kick this off on Monday 23rd March; Harold will introduce the children to his Daily Plan. There will be a template version of this that the children can download – or copy from the website – and fill in for themselves.
Please feel free to share the link with parents – it's already live and Harold has put a little message on it. He'll be adding more, later today! https://www.coramlifeeducation.org.uk/harolds-daily-diary
Each day we'll be putting different activities onto our Harold's Daily Diary page. There will be activities for different age groups – something for everyone! These will help children to complete their own Daily Plan. All the activities are family-friendly, so siblings or whole families who are at home together will be able to do things together.
Harold will update his blog at 9a.m. every day from Monday to Friday (there'll be a break at weekends).
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