“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
During times of adversity, this quote by Mister Rogers has offered comfort to many children (and adults). As we look for helpers today, we find them just about everywhere: medical professionals, police officers, fire fighters, grocery store and pharmacy employees, and all essential workers are playing important roles to help us get through this as a community.
As one Primary friend reminded us last week,”We’re all in this together.” And since our community is well-accustomed to joining service events throughout the year, many students might be thinking, “I see so many helpers. How can I BE a helper?”
Here are 5 ways to “be a helper” in response to COVID-19:
1. Create masks (for your family to wear, or to donate)
This is where Design Lab experience really comes in handy. Whether your child is more comfortable using a sewing machine or tinkering with cloth and elastic bands, here are some resources to check out:
The Boston Globe links to Facebook groups and sewing tutorials if you want to donate to medical professionals.
Fun fact: the examples above were made by our Head of School!
2. Practice social distancing (no, really: practice!)
When you want to see a particular behavior from a child, it is always important to set expectations in advance. What does six feet look like?
For those of us who live in more urban areas, it can be challenging to get time outside with guaranteed space. If you are going for a walk, review what it means to stay six feet away from another person (you can use measuring tape or a couple of yardsticks, or depending on how tall you are, lay down on the floor). Review what to do if there is not enough space on the sidewalk to keep your distance. “Red light, green light” can be effective for helping young children understand how to wait.
3. Send a supportive message
Write or record a personal note:
Maybe you know someone who is an essential worker. It could be a family member, friend, or neighbor. It could even be your pediatrician. With your child, think out loud about how that person might be feeling right now, whether they are tired from late shifts or worried about getting sick. Write a note or make a video of encouragement, gratitude, and support.
A letter on its own is enough to lift anyone’s spirits. If you want to add a bonus: purchase a gift card online from a local business such as a restaurant or bookstore that could use your support. Give your friend that gift card to use for takeout or when things return to normal.
Want to reach a larger audience?
Create a sign to post in your window for passersby to see! We love the “Let’s Be Well” messages students created with Ms. Amy as well as sidewalk chalk messages you’ve shared with us.
Let us help! Send us a photo of you holding a “Thank you” sign and we can post it on social media. We have many parents who are essential workers and would love to see your gratitude! Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Make a donation
If your child earns an allowance or has some money stashed in a piggy bank, they might express interest in giving it to others to help. Even if it is a small sum, this act of generosity has the potential to benefit someone in need and help your child practice empathy. Help your child brainstorm who could use help right now, and which organizations could deliver that help. Your list could include homeless shelters, food pantries, hospitals, and more. Let your child choose where to make an impact and assist them with the process of submitting a gift.
5. Stay home
In this scenario, being a helper can really be that simple. Children are feeling disappointed to miss birthday parties, time in their classroom, visits to grandparents, sports and other enriching activities. Remind them that simply by missing these activities, they are being a helper to keep others safe. Many events, activities, and visits can be postponed until all is well again—and in the meantime, we can get creative to meet those needs in different ways.
However your family chooses to be helpers right now, please know our team at Wellan truly appreciates your efforts (and yes, home learning is a big effort that counts in a big way)! If you have other ideas about how to help our community at this time, please share them in the comments.