South Slocan’s Wee Ones Preschool and Daycare and Slocan’s Valhalla Children’s Centre have been shut down indefinitely. How are the children feeling about this? They can’t see their friends. They have to stay home, day after day.
Before the closures, some of the children already heard about “a really bad sickness that was making many people sick” in China. Now the “sickness” was here.
Maybe some parents would have a difficult time talking to their children about the virus. I hoped that because of the children’s comfort in sharing with me, this would make the process of sharing more comfortable for parents. It did. They trusted in the relationship we had together and so they trusted the plan I sent out in an email. I described the project and some questions they could use in their discussions:
Do you know what “sickness” means? What have you heard about coronavirus? How do you feel about that? Is there something you don’t understand or you are wondering about? What do we already know that will help us stay healthy? What would you like to say to people in your family? Your community? The world?
Here was an opportunity for children to share their thoughts and feelings not only with me and their families but also with their neighbours and people in their communities. Here are some of their responses:
Garrison: “The virus is scary. It’s hurting a lot of people and families, all around the world and maybe in Slocan. The virus sucks. I can’t see my umpa and nana right now, see my friends or go into stores.”
Ivy: “Some people have fevers, some people have something like the flu. I feel bad because everybody is sick except us. We are not sick. To help us stay healthy, we love each other, eat green things, do yoga, take our shoes off outside and sing ABCs when we wash our hands. I love you world, you’re really thoughtful and no matter what, we will get rid of that bug.”
Zachary: “Make sure you get lots of exercise and keep your distance. … When you go bike riding, keep your distance. I love you school and I hope my school never gets closed down again. I miss everyone in my school and community. I hope the world heals.”
We all hope that with this project people will begin to see children with a different lens, not just as “cute” but with more appreciation for their ability to be part of the conversations occurring around them. What I’ve seen on a day-to-day basis is that when children feel they can talk to you about anything, they will. They will talk to you about their experiences, joys, worries, and plans.
I feel so privileged to be a part of all these conversations.
Natalie Lucas is an early childhood educator at Wee Ones Preschool and Daycare in South Slocan.
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