A whole new world: children and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic and all that comes with it, from national lockdowns to social distancing, has its fair share of stress, complete boredom and fear for all of us. But imagine living in today’s new normal with a limited understanding of global pandemics and hardly any idea why you can’t go to your best friend’s house for a playdate. 

Welcome to the world of young children in the time of COVID-19. Their busy parents are constantly on their laptops at home and they’ve seemingly played every single educational game that there is to play. As parents all over the world are finding ways to keep their young children entertained and engaged at home, I caught up with some of the staff parents and kids to see what they’ve been up to during this time. 

Aleksia Luukkonen, Class of 2031, is currently in Mussoorie with her parents. She starts her day off bright and early at 6:45 a.m, followed by breakfast and Zoom classes between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. After an hour of play time, Aleksia has special classes like PE, art and library, followed by lunch, chores and homework until 2:00 in the afternoon. After a Hindi lesson for an hour, Aleksia has no-screen time until dinner time at 6:00. By 8:00 p.m, it’s bedtime. 

Asked about Aleksia’s current lifestyle, Mr. Luukkonen, head of the gym and Aleksia’s father, said, “[Aleksia] has a lot of structure in her daily routine. The time that she does have to herself is for homework or play time with friends, which helps keep her engaged socially and emotionally.” 

Like most other people in the world, Aleksia thinks COVID-19 is ruining her life. Asked about the virus, she said, “they [COVID-19] do not let us go to school like normal. They make us stay at home.” Though she thinks of COVID-19 as a group of people, Aleksia is otherwise very aware of what is happening in the world. Aleksia’s parents read her updates from BBC so that she knows that COVID-19 is a global issue, affecting every single person, not just her.  

Luckily enough, Aleksia also has the opportunity to engage with children her own age, as many staff kids are still in Mussoorie. When playdates aren’t possible, Aleksia and her friends grab their dolls and head to the laptop for the next best thing. “I never thought I’d see Zoom playdates, but that is a thing now!” Mr. Luukkonen said.

Halfway across the world, Ms. Kirsten Pike, English teacher, and Mr. Tobias Tillemans, ESS teacher, are in New York with their two daughters, Haven and Kaisa. Since Ms. Pike and Mr. Tobias have classes during their mornings, they try to spend afternoons and weekends with their kids, doing activities like swimming and biking. 

Asked what she misses most about school, Kaisa Tillemans, Class of 2031, said, “my teachers and friends.” Her favorite thing to do for fun during this time has been, “playing with Barbies and going to the playground.” 

“There definitely has been more screen time than usual, and it has been difficult keeping our children entertained when we’re super busy.” Ms. Pike said. Fortunately, they live near family, who have helped keep Kaisa and Haven engaged during the hectic week.

While Ms. Pike is unsure about the depth of her kids’ understanding of the pandemic, she and Mr. Tillemans have tried to stay “optimistic and upbeat” in their discussions with their kids. When asked to share her thoughts on the pandemic, Kaisa echoed Aleksia’s sentiments, with just one word: “Bleh.”

“Keeping a 6-foot distance from everyone has not been easy for her,” Ms. Pike laughed. 

Regardless of age, we all feel the same way about the pandemic— we want to be back at school, learning in our classrooms and spending time with our friends. Until we can do so, all we can do is hang in there, enjoy this time with our families, and make the best of the situation we are in. 

If you are lucky, maybe your kids even get a headstart— like Charlie Beavan, who has been bombing so many of his dad’s Global Politics classes that he has become something of an expert on the Venezuelan economic crisis. 

Aadya Aryal is the features editor.

Edited by Archita Aggarwal.

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