It can be difficult to explain COVID-19 and its global effects to kids. Our normal daily lives have been greatly affected, and it is a confusing and challenging time for all of us, but especially for our kids. They can no longer attend school and must adjust to online learning, while also distancing from friends and avoiding some of their favourite activities, like team sports or dance class.  

To assist parents with their explanations of COVID-19, Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation with the help of The Institute for Education Research (TIER) at UHN, have put together some kid-friendly information on the subject.  

Here is a document to download and share with friends and family that will help explain COVID-19 and the actions being taken to flatten the curve and find solutions 

Below is some additional helpful information and a list of resources to help both you and your children understand more about COVID-19. 

Why is it called COVID-19? 

Scientists like to name things after what they look like, but not in Englishthey use the ancient language of Latin. In Latin, corona means crown, and virus is from an old Latin word meaning slimy liquid or poison (the idea of an invisible germ did not exist when this word came to be).  

Coronavirus is actually a name for a family of viruses that is round with club-shaped spikes all over the outside. The particular virus that is causing the pandemic all over the world is called SARS-CoV-2, and the disease that the virus causes is called COVID-19, from Corona Virus Disease 2019. 

This virus is sometimes called the ‘novel coronavirus’ because it is new in humans. Novel means ‘ “new in science language. 

Why can’t I see my friends? 

Every contact with someone outside of your home is an opportunity that the virus might travel into your family circle, so unnecessary visits are not a good idea at this time. It can be tough not to see your friends, and this difficult decision is how we help protect our families and friends. Some kids have parents and family who need to go out to work. These adults are doing everything they can to protect themselves at work by wearing equipment that blocks the virus and washing their hands. 

What can I do to help? 

You are helping most by keeping yourself healthy as you keep your distance and wash your hands. Soap or alcohol disrupts the virus membrane (cracks open the virus covering) and destroys it. Soap disrupts lots of other common germs too, so hand washing is a good habit for life, anyway.  

Some kids are helping by making masks for friends, family, or healthcare workers. There are lots of patterns on the internet if you would like to give it a try.  

The science on happiness shows that you feel happier for longer when you do something for others than when you do something for yourself. Try planning snacks for a movie night or making a scavenger hunt for your siblings.  

More resources: 

Activities to learn more about coronavirus: 

More COVID-19 answers: 

Resources to explain the COVID-19 virus to kids:  

Explaining the coronavirus to kids: 

Understanding the science of COVID-19 for parents: