6 Ways to Help Kids Cope With School Quarantines During COVID-19

By: Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett, MS, CCC-SLP CCRP

This school year will have its fair share of challenges, both old and new. One that’s a little bit of both? Quarantines.

This year, quarantines due to COVID-19 will almost certainly be part of the school experience again. But this time, many schools may have just a handful of kids stay home, instead of switching the entire class to remote learning. That could be harder socially and emotionally for the students in quarantine, since not everyone will be in the same boat.

If your child is among those few, how can you help them adjust to the sudden change in plans – and get over the disappointment of missing out?

Connecticut Children’s developmental clinical specialist Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett, MS, CCC-SLP CCRP, shares tips.

 

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1. Encourage your child to express their frustration.

A sudden quarantine can be shocking to a child, especially if they were looking forward to an upcoming event. It’s normal for kids to feel disappointed, angry, sad or stressed about missing out. Simply naming those emotions, and expressing them through talking, journaling or art, can help relieve some of the intensity. You can help this process by asking gentle questions about how your child is doing, helping them name emotions without labeling them as good or bad, and most of all, simply listening.

> Related: How to Check On Your Child’s Mental Health

2. Help your child practice self-care.

Self-care is a skill your child can build. Now is a great time to practice. Encourage your child to spend time doing things that relax them and boost positive emotions. Here’s how to create a coping toolbox, a resource for all of the above. For other tips, check out self-care advice from our pediatric psychologists.

3. Spend more time with your child.

Brainstorm “in case of quarantine” activities for your family to do together. That could be a movie night, craft, virtual vacation, or a board or video game tournament. Of course, if your child has friends who are not in quarantine, arrange video chats with them as well. Here are more ideas.

Not all of your time has to be action-packed, though. Your child could also benefit from some relaxed one-on-one time with you, whether that’s sitting down for lunch or finding time to simply talk. Speaking of which…

4. Connect your child with other students who are quarantining.

Even if it’s just a handful of classmates, there is comfort in connection. Suggest that quarantining students meet virtually once a day or several times a week. They can use this time to help each other with remote classwork, play an online game together, or just have a social outlet. Here are 23 ideas for video chat activities.

5. Find new ways for your child to participate in activities and special events.

If quarantine prevents your child from attending a school event or another fun occasion in person, help your child stay connected to the event and their friends. For example, if they had plans on Halloween, they can still dress up at home and take photos to share with friends, or arrange for classmates to FaceTime from the event. If your child is part of an after-school club, their peers could set up a video chat so they can participate virtually.

> Related: Creating Routines to Help Your Child Cope With COVID-19 Uncertainty

6. Plan a post-quarantine activity.

Mark the date when your child will be able to go out again, and get them involved in planning a fun activity. It’s important for kids to have something to look forward to. And when their quarantine period is over, it will be the perfect way to celebrate how well they coped with this challenge.

 

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