Increasing our knowledge of infectious disease management outside of medical facilities and as part of our everyday lives as a society is one of the most important lessons that we are learning as individuals and communities around the world. The coronavirus pandemic impacts all of us and believe it or not, children can be capable allies in this global health crisis. Studies are now underway to determine the COVID-19 transmission ability that children have. Unbeknown to them, children can easily spread other respiratory and cold germs but are less likely to become seriously ill. Educating school-aged children under the age of eighteen on general infectious disease management and COVID-19 prevention is one of the most needed and powerful methods for curbing the coronavirus spread.
Why Hands-On Learning is the Best Method to Teach Disease Prevention to Kids
Hands-on learning, otherwise known as active learning, is a teaching method where children acquire knowledge by doing versus just auditory, spatial, and linguistic learning. Increased comprehension and learning retention are a product of hands-on learning techniques, and both children and adolescents can quickly put knowledge into practice as a result. Hands-on learning also stimulates growth on both sides of the brain. Because a child's right side of the brain is continually developing between the ages of four and seven, active learning engages more parts of the brain through listening, tactile learning, talking, and movement. This produces high-capacity engagement, knowledge retention, and brain development.
Critical COVID-19 Education Focus Areas
An effective coronavirus prevention curriculum should focus on three central areas of learning and branch out from there. The following data points provide a firm foundation in both understanding and prevention methods for all ages.
- Science - Instructors are encouraged to use a scientific approach to teach students about the virus and what is being done to learn more about it in the scientific community. Presenting a series of studies and tests for students to learn from will help to provide a balanced perspective. A comparison to other pandemics and infectious diseases is also helpful in shaping a student's views. Be sure to cover any relevant research that shows how COVID-19 impacts the body and responds to medication.
- Spread - Once students understand more about the virus, teachers can dig into the transmission part of the disease. Exploring how the virus spreads and integrating a study of public policy will help students understand how people become infected.
- Safety - Discussing vaccinations, hygiene, masks, proper hand washing, social distancing, and all other safety precautions that decrease exposure to the virus should be part of your curriculum's safety section.
Hands-on Learning Activities
When looking at the types of activities that would work best for your students, fitting hands-on education exercises to your student's learning level will increase the impact and retention of the information you are sharing.
Creating visuals, worksheets, songs, games, or hand motions to help students understand concepts is excellent for younger students. There are many free resources that help to teach kids things such as proper hand washing techniques through songs and movement. Puppets are an easy way to teach young students what to do if they are experiencing symptoms. Most importantly, remember to teach and reinforce social distancing and hygiene practices in your classroom.
More mature students will have questions, comments, and concerns about the disease. Having a question and answer session with your learners is a unique way to reinforce scientific truth by directly addressing their issues. Presenting case studies and scenarios that older children can search for answers to and discuss in small groups will help youngsters play a role in active learning. Even a scavenger hunt or facts versus myths trivia are enjoyable ways to teach about COVID-19 virus prevention.
Older adolescents, teens, and young adults can digest more complex discussions. An extended conversation with students that address questions and concerns is critical. Breaking down the definition of terms such as explaining what a pandemic is, common myths within the vaccine controversy, and how to confront and prevent stigma will be appreciated by adolescent learners. Letting different groups or students present or defend theories that they feel strongly about will increase engagement in the learning process. Students can even craft announcements that cover best practices in hygiene and role-play different scenarios.
Teaching students about COVID-19 in a scientifically-driven and positive way is no easy task. Many children and teens are absorbing misinformation and will bring these conclusions into your learning space. Asking questions and teaching students about how to glean legitimate and reputable sources versus opinion-based information may be where you need to start your teaching at this level. One of the biggest obstacles for younger children lies in looking for non-threatening and consistent ways to cultivate good hygiene habits in the classroom. Combating infectious diseases is a practice that is essential even after the world becomes better equipped to tackle COVID-19, and helping your students view methods as a life skill will help to keep them focused on the facts without being fearful.
Opinions expressed by Sphero.com contributors are their own.