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Coronavirus: Support for families and schools

Information for families on how to support their children during the Coronavirus outbreak

We all realise how difficult it can be trying to talk to children and young people about global crises. As psychologists we are often asked about how much to tell children, how and when to talk to them, and how we can feel prepared for challenging conversations. We have therefore started to compile a list of resources and helpful websites for you to use over the coming weeks.

We have broken this section into specific areas with lists of resources that you can look at to support you, this includes resources to support adults’ as well children and young people’s mental health. This section will be useful to staff in educational settings and those adults caring for children and young people in their homes.

Information on the Coronavirus for children

Coronavirus explained for children

BBC Newsround

The BBC Newsround site has a comprehensive section on coronavirus with text and video guidance focusing on tips if a child is worried, how to wash your hands, and what self-isolation means:

Mencap easy read

Mencap have produced an excellent easy read information sheet about coronavirus. This would be particularly useful for children, young people or adults whose understanding is improved with visuals and when information is given in bitesize chunks.

The easy read version covers what coronavirus is, what to do if you think you have it, and how to help stop the spread:

Carol Gray Coronavirus Social Story

Carol Gray has produced a social story about coronavirus and pandemics. The social story uses large print pictures and provides contextual information about pandemics and viruses in general.

MindHeart Covibook – A story about coronavirus

This excellent MindHeart information and activity book about coronavirus would be an excellent way to open up a conversation about children’s concerns.

The book is available in 18 languages (fantastic!) and it encourages children to label their current feelings and offers specific advice on things they can do to stay healthy.

The Autism Educator – coronavirus social story

Another excellent social story about coronavirus that has a good level of specificity about the effects of social distancing e.g. not being able to go to favourite places.

General information and guidance for supporting children during the Coronavirus outbreak (including supporting and promoting positive mental health)

The UK Government

In the first instance, the UK Government Covid-19 pages are frequently and rapidly updated with advice and guidance in line with advice from Public Health England. There is specific guidance for educational settings and guidance for employers, employees and businesses.

The World Health Organisation

The WHO has recently published considerations to support mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak.

This guidance has specific recommendations for health care workers, caretakers of children, caretakers of older adults and people in isolation.

Division of Educational and Child Psychology (DECP) advice

Earlier this week the DECP released advice on talking to children about coronavirus. There are five simple tips focusing on honesty, openness and validating children’s emotions.

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

The NASP is a professional body for school psychologists in the USA. They have released a parent guide for talking to children about coronavirus. it’s lengthy, but comprehensive.


Mind has an excellent page providing generic advice for everyone about maintaining wellbeing. The page has two distinct sections:

  1. Plan for staying at home or indoors
  2. Taking care of our mental health and wellbeing

The Psychologist Magazine

With an increase in home working and social isolation meaning no travel times, you might have more time on your hands. The Psychologist has compiled contributions that provide a psychological perspective on coronavirus. The page is updated regularly

Supporting people with specific needs

People with difficulties with sensory integration or sensory processing can experience aversion to the smells, images, sounds and the tactile sensations of hand washing; have problems with balance, tone or co-ordinating their hand movements; or not understand the step-by-step process of hand washing. The following website provides suggestions which should be tailored to specific sensory challenges or different abilities and age groups, as appropriate.

Tips to help people with OCD differentiate between the recommended public health advice for this virus and from OCD induced behaviours, and to help people combine therapeutic steps whilst engaging in these recommended behaviours.

Useful Resources

Educating at home

This blog provides a useful overview of what is important when thinking about how to support and educate your children at hope, providing top ten survival tips!

Here is a link to a list of websites that provide learning resources and ideas for activities: Websites providing resources to support home learning


Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment – with openness and curiosity. It is a technique that can help support children to feel relaxed and reduce stress.

For primary aged children there are:

  1. Headspace for kids app
  2. Smiling mind app
  3. Book: Puppy Mind (also available on youtube)
  4. Youtube: Cosmic Kids

For secondary aged children:

  1. The book Meditation Capsules
  2. The free audios on the thriving adolescent website.
  3. The App: Stop Breathe & Think Kids
  4. The MindUp curriculum.
  5. Dot-B (secondary) and Paws-B (MISP Program)

Books to support

Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with events in the News
Dawn Huebner. How to process different world events (ages 6-12).

The Day the Sea Went Out and Never Came Back
Margot Sunderland. A story for children who have lost someone they love (ages 4-12).

Draw on Your Emotions
Margot Sunderland. A resource to help people express and communication their emotions.

What To Do When You’re Scared & Worried: A Guide for Kids
James Crist. A help guide to processing fears and worries (ages 9-13).

Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
Carol McCloud. Encourages positive behaviour and expressing kindness and appreciation.

How are you Peeling: Foods with Moods
Saxton Freymann & Joost Elffers. Explores how emotions look through pictures of Foods. A good way to talk about emotions with young children.

The Way I Feel
Janan Cain. Explores feelings and a helpful way to talk about emotions with young children.

A Terrible Thing Happened
Margaret Holmes. A story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma (ages 4-8).

We would like to remind you of the availability of an online service to support the wellbeing and resilience of young people.

Kooth is a web based confidential support service available to young people. Kooth provides a safe and secure means of accessing mental health and wellbeing support designed specifically for young people.

Kooth offers young people the opportunity to have a text-based conversation with a qualified counsellor. Counsellors are available from 12noon to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10 pm at weekends, every day of the year on a drop-in basis. Young people can access regular booked online counselling sessions as needed. Outside of counselling hou young people can message the team and get support the next day.