As news of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate the media, they are increasingly becoming a part of our daily conversations. As much as we try to shield our children from alarming headlines, the reality is that they will consume this news to some degree. Students may feel overwhelmed and anxious, especially international students, who may be having difficulty processing how this information affects them and their families back home. So now, more than ever, we need to check-in with our students to see how they are doing. Having an open discussion with your international student can help them understand, cope, and even make a positive contribution to others. Here are our suggestions for how to approach this critical conservation:
How to talk to your child about coronavirus
- Understanding the cultural perception of the coronavirus. Please keep in mind the cultural differences international students and their families may have in their response and interpretation of coronavirus news. For example, how face masks are viewed in the US vs. Asia. Here is a brief history of face masks in Asia, which you may find useful.
- Ask open questions and listen. Invite them to share their concerns, find out what they already know and what they don’t know.
- Be honest: explain the truth in a child-friendly way. Misinformation and sensationalized news are an issue, make sure you and your student are getting your news about COVID-19 from trusted sources like the CDC and WHO.
- Show them how to protect themselves and their friends. The best way to prevent disease spread is regular handwashing, encourage your foreign student to keep up this good habit and others (Here is what the CDC recommends).
- Offer reassurance. Seeing troubling images online can cause even more significant distress than just the news of the virus. Keep your routines as normal as possible and remember to offer words of assurance.
- Check if they or their friends are experiencing stigma. There has been an uptick in racial discrimination around the country. Remind your international student to speak up if they experience or see any bullying.
- End conversations with care. Measure their body language, and be sure to wrap up your conversation with support and care.
Try to be solution-focused and share healthy habits that we should all establish in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students can easily pick up on how adults around them respond to stress, so it’s important to pay attention to our own reactions and model positive ways of coping with stress and anxiety. And as always, please feel free to contact your Student Development Manager if you have any questions or concerns.
Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider, tips for hosting, and our host testimonials. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!