If you’ve got kids, they probably have a lot of questions at the moment — questions about the coronavirus, how it spreads, and how to stop it.
So now is a great time to bolster your teaching with lessons on virology. Sure, there’s a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, but giving your kids the tools to learn everything they possibly can about viruses can help them feel more in control.
Like many science subjects, teaching virology is tricky to master. Fortunately, there are endless resources — especially at the moment — to help you explain coronavirus from a basic scientific standpoint.
While you might want to protect middle schoolers from some of the darker aspects of the coronavirus, covering the facts behind the virus can help alleviate some of the anxiety they might be feeling about it.
Where to begin teaching your children about virology and the coronavirus
As always, it’s best to start with the basics and lay the groundwork with some simple stuff. So, what is a virus?
Viruses are small infectious agents that replicate inside our cells. They can infect all complex life forms — humans, animals, plants — though so far the coronavirus has primarily been found in humans. Viruses can spread in many different ways and are transmitted through disease-bearing organisms called vectors.
There’s a lot of terminology and new ideas here, but our lesson plan will help you make sense of it all with your children.
COVID-19 spreads through droplets that an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air. These droplets can enter a healthy person’s body through the wet parts of their face: the eyes, nose, and mouth. Droplets can remain infectious on surfaces for up to a couple of days, which is why it’s super important to limit what we touch in public and sanitize our hands regularly when outside.
Take some time to ensure your kids know exactly how coronavirus is transmitted and spread, that way they’ll really understand the importance of social distancing and proper handwashing.
Top tips for teaching your children about the coronavirus
Before starting your lessons, ask your children what they want to know. Kids always have a natural curiosity and are probably brimming with questions. They’re probably hearing things they don’t understand and want answers. Allow them to help dictate the lesson — they can ask questions and you can work together to find the answers. This will help them feel more in control, and you can hopefully quell any anxieties together.
You can also use this as an opportunity to teach your children the importance of proper hygiene. Explain the structure of a virus cell — a central body surrounded by spiky proteins that help it attach to hosts. It looks kind of like an orange with toothpicks sticking out of it. The cell body is covered with lipids — essentially fat that can be destroyed with soap. This video does an excellent job of explaining how soap is super effective at killing germs.
Similarly, kids need to learn to stop touching their faces. While this is especially essential right now, it’s a good hygiene practice to observe in “normal” life as well. Every time you see them touch their face, point it out, and ask them to do the same for you.
Finally, ask your kids to keep a diary. It’ll help with their storytelling and writing skills, and will also be a great relic to look back on when they’re older. It doesn’t have to be too extravagant, just a page or two every couple of days about what they’re doing and how they’re coping. These journaling prompts are excellent for getting started.
Best resources for teaching your children virology
Here are some of the best materials to add to your virology lessons.
Once you’ve taught your child the basics, fun worksheets are a great way to cement that knowledge. Our lesson plan comes with a 28-page worksheet bundle that’s got everything you need to teach virology like a pro. In it, you’ll find colored diagrams that your kids can label, as well as matching activities and true/false fact sheets.
Videos can be great teaching resources, especially if your child is a visual learner. While news videos might be informative, they can be a little overwhelming or anxiety-inducing, even for teenagers. It’s best to look for resources from scientific organizations or groups, as they’re best-equipped to tackle teaching such a complex subject.
This is an excellent example of a kid-friendly explainer video, complete with animations and voiceovers. It explores basic virology, how the virus spreads, and how we can stop it.
Now is an ideal time to teach your kids how to think critically about what they read online. Considering how much time teens and middle schoolers spend on social media, this should be an essential part of their education.
Students should be able to assess the validity and credibility of online sources, both for assignments and their everyday life. This Time article is a great piece about misinformation and how to spot false reporting.
Teach your kids to think laterally, rather than just reading an article and taking it as fact. They should assess the source, then open up some new tabs to compare with other outlets reporting the same thing.
Focus on your manner as much as your message
The way you behave is just as important as what you teach. When looking back at this time, your kids will remember the feelings and emotions way more than the information they learn.
While it’s a scary time for everyone, be sure to act and communicate with them in a calm and calming way — it’ll have a big impact on them, and you!
Taking time to learn the science behind viruses, and focusing on facts rather than on opinions, will help your kids take a more rational and reasoned view of the pandemic.
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Link will appear as Struggling To Explain Coronavirus To Your Children? Here’s A Kid-Friendly Approach To Teaching Virology: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 8, 2020