How to talk to children about COVID-19 age appropriate guide

Talking to Foster kids about Covid-19

Talking to Foster kids about Covid-19

An age appropriate parent guide for helping kids understand Coronavirus 

Addressing COVID-19 by Age: How to talk to Foster children about COVID-19 virus with an age-appropriate approach. Having age-appropriate conversations can help keep foster homes healthy.

As a foster parent, introducing healthy habits into your household is important. Some children might come from backgrounds where they were not taught about maintaining their own health and safety. Talk about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases with a calm tone of voice. It is important to present these healthy behaviors in a way that will be understood.


Teaching good health behaviors to preschool-aged children should be creative and fun. At this age, children respond well to reward systems, and a sticker chart is a great way to track behavior. Place a sticker on the chart every time the child performs a healthy habit.

Some include covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing and washing hands frequently for 20 seconds with antibacterial soap and water. Counting to 20 can get repetitive, so we suggest singing singing "Happy Birthday" one time as an alternative.

Creating interactive visuals for children is also another great way to get them to engage with learning. Try playing with puppets or dolls to demonstrate some common symptoms of the virus. For more hands-on activities, try the CDC's Coping with COVID-19 activity book.

We also know that children like to interact with others very closely as they thrive on human interaction. Therefore, encourage children to sit further apart from one another by having them stretch out their arms to visualize their "personal space bubble."

Elementary School 

At this age, children can voice their concerns and ask appropriate questions. We must answer these questions and listen to the children. This may be a difficult time for them, so encourage them to voice their opinions.

Introduce other approaches to preventing the spread of germs. Some COVID-19-specific procedures include wearing masks and social distancing (6 feet apart).

Demonstrating how quickly the virus can be spread and the importance of washing hands can be useful for younger children. To do this visually, spray colored water in the air to show how quickly germs can travel. Another creative approach is to put cooking oil on the child's hands and have them wash them with running water first and then with soap.

Allow children to actively practice healthy habits or adjust high-risk behaviors during this time. It can help them to keep the community and themselves safe.

Middle School 

Students start to understand more about the virus during this time and have more detailed questions that need to be answered. Shortness of breath and a sore throat are two of the main symptoms of COVID-19. It is important to discuss all of the symptoms with the child and make sure they can identify them. Present the option of a COVID-19 vaccine and discuss with the child whether it is right for them.

Continue to discuss ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle by wearing a mask, washing their hands, and social distancing. Encourage children to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content after coming in contact with public surfaces. An easy way to do this is to provide them with a pocket-sized hand sanitizer for easy access.

Allow children to be more inventive by creating small projects that discuss the importance of promoting public health. This could include making posters for the school that promotes practicing healthy behaviors.

Finally, teachers and parents should try to teach lessons on public health in other subjects, such as Science or Social Studies. Discussing the history of illness and vaccines is important.

 High School 

Once in upper secondary school or high school, parents and caregivers should continue to reinforce healthy behaviors and procedures. Introduce the impact of diet and exercise on personal health.

Continue to stress the importance of appropriate CDC-recommended health precautions. Wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, and covering mouths with their elbow when sneezing or coughing all make a difference.

It is vital to allow children to express themselves and ask questions about the virus. Healthy behaviors can be enhanced by using creative methods to bring these points home and get the word out to others. A COVID-19 checklist for students can be viewed at:


Physical distancing for teenagers and above explained

Social DistancING for ages 5 to 13 explained

Social DistancING for ages 0 - 5 explained

Washing hands Video for Teenagers by the CDC

Hand washing for middle schools Foster kids


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