With schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, being home is an opportunity for parents and guardians to foster developmental growth and create a positive environment, says Crystal Tyler-Mackey, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in community viability.

“As adults navigate this new environment amid COVID-19, children, even as young as infants and toddlers, are observing and taking cues from our behaviors, words and emotions. Child trends have encouraged the use of the three Rs for children at this time: reassurance, routines and regulation,” Tyler-Mackey says.

“We can help foster our children’s development through the COVID-19 pandemic by remaining calm and reassuring, being available to help them through their fears, limiting exposure to news and social media coverage, and providing opportunities to keep children socially-connected with friends and loved ones through socially-distant alternatives,” says Tyler-Mackey.

Tyler-Mackey provides some helpful tips to help create developmental growth in the home:

  • Parents should reassure their children that they and other adults are working to keep them safe.
  • To the extent possible, routines should be kept or established and maintained, as this gives children a sense of security.
  • Children also need support to encourage self-regulation of their responses to stress, which include physical activity, health eating, sleep, sharing feelings, fears, and concerns, and even creative outlets.
  • Supervised distance “play-dates” via Google Hangouts, Skype, or FaceTime.

About Tyler-Mackey

Crystal Tyler-Mackey is a statewide Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in community viability. She previously worked as an educator and researcher at the University of Maryland and then as a 4-H agent and unit coordinator for Virginia Cooperative Extension's Richmond City Office. In her current role, she partners with local extension units, community agencies, and other groups to address social and health-related issues that impact communities and families. Among the many topics that she addresses are opioid and other substance misuse issues, risky behaviors among youth, parental and family relationships, obesity and chronic disease, food access programs for older adults and younger children, and parenting. More here.

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