Monday, March 16, 2020
Dear P.A.W.S. Families,
So much has been happening in just a few short days. I wanted to touch base and let you know I am thinking of you and wish to share some support and resources I hope will be useful to you.
These are unprecedented and unexpected times for all of us. Teachers and administration have been working behind the scenes during the past several days. We appreciate your support, understanding, and patience as we work together to determine the best next steps to help move us forward. This is all uncharted territory and we are working tirelessly to get answers to questions and to seek solutions.
By now you have likely heard that Governor Charlie Baker has closed all public schools until April 6, 2020. The term “social distancing” is becoming a frequently used phrase, and one I encourage you to practice as you stay vigilant in keeping your family healthy and safe.
As we will be out of school for some time, below are some talking points prepared for you by P.A.W.S. School Psychologist, Dr. Terry Weksel. Feel free to review and use with your preschooler as needed or as it feels helpful to you.
There are many unanswered questions at this time, but I will do my best to help wherever I can. If your family is in need of food or support, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are members of the P.A.W.S. Cares Team that would be willing to help a family in need, please reach out and let me know I can call on you. Now more than ever, it is important to know that our P.A.W.S. Village is here for you and we are here to help and support each other.
Please keep checking your email as more updates will be coming. I miss seeing you and the children already. I hope you all stay healthy and well!
How To Talk to Your Preschooler About the School Closing and Other Talking Points
By Dr. Terry Weksel, School Psychologist, Preschool At Wellesley Schools
P.A.W.S. is closed for a little while, just like when we have school vacation week, so we won’t be going to school.
Instead of going to P.A.W.S., we are going to [fill in the blank] (stay home with the babysitter, do fun activities at home like you do at P.A.W.S., play outside.).
If your child asks when he/she will go back to P.A.W.S., you can say “P.A.W.S. will send us an email to let us know when school will be open again.”
If your preschooler asks about the virus, listen hard for what you think he or she is asking or saying.
Remain calm and reassuring. Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others. Sometimes a simple, “I heard about that, too” is all that will be needed. If your child presses for more information, you will need to use judgment about what to say. This might include:
“The virus is a germ that can make people sick. That is why we wash our hands after we sneeze or cough or use the bathroom. Washing our hands will help to keep us healthy.”
Be alert to conversations about the virus that your preschooler might hear if they have older siblings. It is important to keep the information about the virus simple for preschoolers.
Pay attention to what your preschooler can see or hear on television, radio, or online about the virus and related news.
Resources online you might find helpful:
Resources from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
An experiment using pepper and soap to teach about hand washing and germs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKP5UiIpu3E
American Academy of Pediatrics – https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Children-and-Media-Tips.aspx
Additional Support for Parents, by Dr. Terry Weksel
Children thrive on routines!
Even though your child may not be attending school, it is very important that as many of his or her daily routines remain in place. Continue to maintain a standard bedtime, regular times and expectations for meals, and a general sense of how the day will progress.
Maintain your regular morning routine, however this looks for your child, in whatever order activities usually occur (waking up, getting out of bed, using the potty, washing hands, getting dressed, eating breakfast).
Make a list of the morning’s activities and play choices available to your child that day. Discuss with your child what choices are available that day.
Show your child a visual schedule of the day’s activities. Your child might help you decide which activity will be first, then second, then third. When will he or she have a snack?
Help your child stay focused on these activities for an appropriate period of time. Try to minimize your child moving between activities and play choices too quickly. Bring activities or games to some type of completion, then help your child do “clean up,” just like he or she is expected to do at school.
Include time for breaks and movement, such as getting outside to play.
Set aside quiet time to listen to soft music or read books.
Limit the amount of screen time you allow for your child. This includes television, iPad/iPhone time, and other computer access. If you are permitting screen time to your child, please check out the suggestions of teacher approved websites and apps you and your child might like to explore (coming soon). PEDIATRIC ACADEMY GUIDELINES FOR MEDIA FOR PRESCHOOLERS.
Make time to take care of yourself! If you are feeling stressed and upset because of the changes in everyone’s routines, this can affect the rest of the family too. Do something you enjoy daily, even if it’s as simple as sipping your coffee before everyone gets up, or playing a favorite song.