Let's face it, most people are stressed out about the coronavirus outbreak. Now, with schools shuttered across the country, we now have the added pressure of entertaining and/or educating our kids 24/7.
But that’s not all: We also need to figure out a way to explain this unprecedented situation to our children in an age-appropriate way.
Fortunately, one Jewish mom created an amazing resource that does just that. My School is Closed is a great little PDF book created by Meredith Polsky, a co-founder of Matan, a Jewish organization that helps make Jewish education and community life more inclusive for children with disabilities.
My School is Closed, which was created with Lesson Pix, is a simple, relatable, and reassuring resource that helps parents explain coronavirus-related school closings to preschoolers and toddlers. “I’m not sick,” it reads. “My friends are not sick. We are staying at home to help people stay healthy.”
“Short picture stories are a great way to help children adjust to new situations,” Polsky, who is also a developmental support coordinator at Temple Beth Ami Nursery School in Rockville, Maryland, tells Kveller. (As it happens, she also sends similar illustrated stories for her students to help with the first days of school and other important transitions.)
“When school closures became more and more real over the past week, I tried to think about how young children and children with disabilities would understand what was happening,” she says. “I was worried about their level of anxiety, and I wanted to create something that would be age-appropriate and wouldn’t induce fear.”
Aside from helping students with the transition into life away from school, Polsky says that by reading My School is Closed, she “really wanted them to know that their teachers love them and miss them and wish they could see them.”
“I also wanted to reassure them that their teachers and friends are not sick and that this kind of thing almost never happens,” Polsky adds.
Polsky also has some great advice for parents who are feeling overwhelmed by having to suddenly homeschool their kids. “I believe kids need some structure and routine in order to thrive, and at the same time, it’s a great time to take a breath,” she says. “In between getting my own work done, I’m trying to use this slower pace to focus on things that are out of the box for us.” For Polsky and her kids (ages 11, 13, and 15), that means trying to do yoga for together for the first time.
Polsky says she and her family are “mostly trying to manage fears of the unknown and not knowing what to expect. There are a lot of things we don’t have answers to right now and we all have to take this one day at a time.”
Fortunately, for those of us with littles at home, we can use her book to make things a little easier.