The Coronavirus, Children, Parents and Schools



The Coronavirus, Children, Parents and Schools

Franklin P. Schargel

The coronavirus has had a widespread impact on the world. And the situation is fluid – changing by the hour. According to data from Education Week, “46 states have decided to close schools. Combined with district closures in other states, at least 118,000 U.S. public and private schools are closed, are scheduled to close, or were closed and later reopened, affecting at least 53.8 million school students.” It  has a tremendous impact on children, especially the youngest ones. Like many, their entire lives has been disrupted. They are frightened. They are dealing with things they do not understand. And the news and video from television make the situation worse. Parents have a rare opportunity to educate their children while schools remain closed.

Here are a few suggestions.


  1. First, talk to your children. Calm them down. Explain, in age appropriate language, what is happening. Help younger children manage their anxiety around the health crisis. For most of them, this is a traumatic experience and they do not know how to express it. Television is focusing on an increased number of people getting the virus and dying. For children, this may be their first experience of having to deal with death and the fear of dying.
  2. This may be your first opportunity you have had to show your children how to properly wash their hands. Don’t just tell them. Demonstrate how to properly wash their hands. And wash with them a few times so they understand.
  3. Contact your school district and your child’s school and find out if they are supplying lesson plans or have made provision to provide remote or eLearning instruction. Contract your school district office by phone or through the internet.
  4. Children need to be active both physically and mentally. Keep children’s minds active. Play board games and cards with them like Go Fish, Old Maid, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, read together, write in journals. Have children read to you. You can use crossword puzzles, Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, Pictionary, Word Sleuth, Crossword puzzles.
  5. While children cannot be in physical contact with their friends, they can maintain contact via telephone, computers, or tablets.
  6. Use television to aid in instruction. There are a variety of “learning channels” like Public Broadcasting, BBC, The Travel Channel, History Channel, Nature Channel, National Geographic and You Tube.
  7. Have them learn a foreign language using duolingo. (, which is free.
  8. While libraries may be physically closed, they may have on-line services. Call and find out.
  9. Stimulate children’s imagination by encouraging them make up stories and write them down. Tell them a part of a story and have them complete it. Read a story like “The Lady or The Tiger” and have them guess the ending.
  10. Keeping in mind social distancing, but encourage them to play outside.
  11. Do simple physical exercises with them.
  12. Have them draw a self-portrait or a picture of you or draw pictures of dogs, kittens or other animals.
  13. Have them interview their grandparents over the telephone.
  14. Have them write a letter with their non-dominant hand.
  15. There is a video which clearly explains the virus in easy to understand language. It is appropriate for children over the age of 11. A clear and easy to understand explanation even for kids, as to why the response should be so dramatic.