In a recent article in Australian Educational Leader, researchers outlined their findings from a project inviting children aged 3-5 years to share their thoughts and feelings about Covid-19. The children were from a diverse range of early childhood services in NSW and Victoria.
The results indicate that children are aware of the loss and restoration of safety and security associated with the coronavirus. They understand how viruses work and the potential impact on themselves and others. It is “deadly and everywhere”, “makes you sick” and “spreads”.
They understand the need for social distancing and can explained how rules control where they go, what they do and with whom they interact. “Stay inside” and “look after yourself and wash your hands a lot”.
The children were also aware of the shifting dynamics within relationships, particularly with physical contact with grandparents, such as social distancing, and expressed their grief and joy associated with the loss and restoration of relationships.
In 2020 during the onset of the pandemic, at North Bondi Uniting Early Learning, many families were unable to purchase basic consumables and the children demonstrated concern for the “panic-buying” that had begun. Jess Guerin (Director) said, “This concern led us to create a ‘pop-up pantry’ and our families contributed many items.
“The children’s new understanding of active citizenship then guided us to consider vulnerable families during Christmas. The children knew what it was like to have to go without some things and identified with other families going without. One family proposed a food drive for Food Bank (charitable food distribution network) and our children, families and members of the community contributed over 97 kilograms of food items.”
Jess helped turn the children’s experience and concern into empathy for others, compassionate action and kindness. Altruism and making a difference for others helps with the wellbeing challenges of Covid for all. Let’s listen to the children. They show us how.
This is Part 2 of a series by Dr Cathie Harrison about celebrating together through and beyond Covid. See Part 1 on our website here.
Loss and Gains of COVID-19: Through the Eyes of the Child was published in Australian Educational Leader, Special Edition – Issue 2.