A Message from Our Founder: How do you know if your child feels anxious about coronavirus?

No matter how much you try to shield your children from the news, they can sense something has shifted. People seem more anxious; there are new social rules:

don’t hug others or hold their hands, don’t touch your face, don’t touch that book or toy, wash your hands often, stay home.  This shift in adult behavior and general sense of unease will inevitably be absorbed by your children, regardless of whether or not they understand what the coronavirus is and how it is affecting the world. Remember, children feel the emotions you and your family members portray. Much more than what you say, how you act, think and feel around them, has the greatest impact. In uncertain times it’s inevitable parents will feel overwhelmed with worry or fear, and that’s okay. However, as much as possible try to find a sense of calm, when you know your children are paying attention.

While I generally recommend refraining from sharing stressful news stories with your children, this only applies if everyone else around them is also not talking about the news. With an unprecedented event, like the coronavirus pandemic, which has had global impact and has changed the daily lives of everyone around them, it’s unreasonable to expect your young child will not hear anything about it or feel the stress. They may have heard you discuss it quietly with your spouse or friends, or sensed there is something wrong going on around them. That alone is enough to cause anxiety in your child, which can be amplified if they are left to make sense of what they have seen or heard on their own, without your guidance and reassurance. If you suspect that this is the case with your child, the best thing to do is to talk about it, and through conversation, encourage them to share their feelings, questions and worries with you, so you can help alleviate their fears.

So how do you talk to your children about coronavirus?

At our cefa schools, our students are all younger than five, and for this age group, I  suggest you empower your children by sharing with them, very simply, some information about COVID-19, as well as some strategies to deal with it. Remember to keep calm and be reassuring when discussing this topic, as not to provoke anxiety in your child. Another important point to keep in mind when you have the conversation is to explain it to them at a level they can understand and make sense of. Don’t overwhelm your little one by giving too much information.

This can help alleviate their anxiety instead of slowly building it up from whatever they hear from others. If you make it into a discussion, your child will also have the opportunity to ask you questions about it, alleviating any fears they may have had. It will also give your child the impression that you, as a family, will be fine, because you are working on it together.

Here are some key points you can discuss:

  • Covid-19 is a virus, just like when some people get the flu (do they remember ever getting the flu, or when you had the flu?)
  • The virus does not usually make kids sick, but;
  • It’s quite contagious, which is why we have to:
    • Keep our hands to ourselves
    • Wash our hands often
    • Cough into our sleeve
    • Not have friends over for now
  • Most people get better, just like when they have the flu

Once they know these basic facts, engage them in sharing with you what they are feeling by asking these two simple questions:

  • Have you heard anything about it? (listen carefully, ask more questions)
  • What do you do to keep healthy?

You can end the conversation by saying something along the lines of: “It looks like we are doing all the right things to stay safe, so we will be fine – what do you think?”

Do not dismiss their worries or minimize them. Just listen and ask them more questions. This is the step that will help in alleviating their anxiety. Once they feel heard, then you can offer some suggestions of how to deal with that particular fear.

Remember to keep the conversation simple and use words they can understand. There is no need to go into too much detail. The idea is to give your children information they can understand, calm their anxiety (listening to their concerns as you discuss, is key) and encourage them to wash hands often.

Of course, you know your child better than anyone else. If you feel your child is very young and has not felt any anxiety coming from you or anyone else regarding the coronavirus, there is no need to bring it up. If your child suffers from anxiety, depression or any other mental health concerns that could be triggered by having this discussion, consult with your child’s doctor or specialist first. If this is the case, keep a close watch for symptoms as your child may get triggered in any case, just by the changes in their environment.

 

How do you keep your child safe without nagging?

The best way to stay safe is to wash hands often, not touch our face, and not touch things that may be contaminated. It goes without saying that you should not bring your child to public places like parks or supermarkets. As much as you can, stay inside, and insist that everyone who returns home wash hands thoroughly.

It may be difficult for your young child to refrain from touching their face, so instead, sanitize all areas of your home and the toys or other objects your child touches, and focus on washing hands to keep the germs at bay.

For that, I suggest getting a transparent soap with a toy inside, like this one, which serves as both a visual cue and an incentive —  so they can get to the toy sooner! Research has shown that children who use that soap wash their hands much more often and more willingly.

Once you talk to your child about it, make sure they are not exposed to the news on TV or other media, and that when you have “adult” conversations about the subject, they are not within earshot of those. If you reassure them on one hand, and then have alarming conversations on the other, you will just undo all of the work you’ve done in calming their anxiety.

 

How do you know if your child feels anxious about the coronavirus?

Even if your child does not talk about it, they may still feel anxious. Anxiety can take many forms, such as regressing in their development (for instance, going back to having “accidents” after being potty-trained); feeling separation anxiety even if you are still in the house; hitting, biting, or other attention-seeking behavior; even physical symptoms like cramps, headaches, body aches or tummy aches; loss of appetite; they may be more tired or lethargic than usual; they may worry about your safety (for example, have a disproportionate reaction to you sneezing or feeling tired).

If you feel that your child’s anxiety is severe, call a psychologist or your pediatrician to ask for professional advice. If not, the opportunity to discuss it openly with you will alleviate their concerns, as long as you remain calm and positive (and I know this is easier said than done sometimes). If after your conversation they have more questions, answer them reassuringly and using simple language they can understand. Let them know that they will be ok, and that you and your family will too.

Our schools remain open, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone to talk to. You can call your school or e-mail help@cefa.ca – we are here for you!

by
Natacha V Beim
CEFA Founder


COVID-19 Update – Temporary Tuition Relief Program

Dearest Families,

Re: COVID-19 Update – Temporary Tuition Relief Program

At CEFA, the health and wellbeing of our students and their families, of our teachers, and our Franchise Partners (school owners) is of the upmost importance to us.  This is an unprecedented situation the likes of which none of us have faced before.  We fully understand that there are many questions and concerns that you may have over the coming weeks, and we are here for you.

As you know, the B.C. Provincial Government have deemed that licensed Child Care operators would be classified as an “essential service” until classed differently.  By remaining open we will therefore be able to provide a critical service to those in need, especially the families of our front-line critical care workers and other families operating within the essential service category. 

We still, however, have a great responsibility to ensure our students are safe and healthy, and of course, the same goes for our teachers. We continue to support the Government approach of “social distancing” and other measures in place to combat this virus, and hope your family does the same.  Therefore, our policy remains, if parents are able to care for their child at home then they should do so.

In light of this we want to provide some clarity to parents as it relates to their childcare space at our schools, and the Tuition Relief we are offering, which is in alignment with guidance now being provided by the Provincial Government:

  • As a result of COVID-19, if you decide to keep your child home during the month of April 2020, you will not be charged any tuition fees.
  • Your childcare space will also be guaranteed for the month of May 2020.

This is clearly an evolving situation and we will continue to update this policy on a monthly basis as new information comes to light.

Thank you again for your understanding and support during the time.

Regards,

Alex Read 
CEO


COVID-19 Update – End of Spring Break

Dearest Families,

Re: COVID-19 Update – End of Spring Break

We are pleased to be able to remain open for you in these uncertain times, and feel tremendously grateful to our Teachers and staff, for continuing to work

At CEFA, all schools have been working very hard together, keeping on top of a situation that has evolved rapidly. Our thoughts, first and foremost have been with all of you as we face this difficult time together.  The health and wellbeing of our students and their families, of our teachers, and our Franchise Partners (school owners) is of the upmost importance to us.

This is an unprecedented situation the likes of which none of us have faced before.  We fully understand that there are many questions and concerns that you may have over the coming weeks, and we are here for you.

As you know, the B.C. Provincial Government have announced an indefinite shut-down of the K-12 school system due to the COVID-19 virus.  At the same time, it was announced that licensed Child Care operators would be classified as an “essential service” until deemed differently. This includes our schools, as we are licensed as such.

After fully reviewing this direction, we have decided to follow the Provincial Government guidelines and re-open after the conclusion of our current Spring Break period.  This means that CEFA programs and services will begin to operate again, on Monday 23rd March.  We will therefore be able to provide a critical service to those in need, especially the families of our front-line critical care workers, other families operating within the essential service category, and the many families struggling to return to work. We know that remaining open is a great help to our community, and our way of contributing to the world.

We still, however, have a great responsibility to ensure our students are safe and healthy, and of course, the same goes for our teachers. We continue to support the Government approach of “social distancing” where possible and other measures in place to combat this virus, and hope your family does the same.

In order to remain open and provide care for families, we ask for your full cooperation and understanding. You may find that some schools, out of an abundance of caution for the well-being of all students and staff, will need to amend some of their operating practices (for example: school operating hours, CEFA chef program, dropping students off at the door, excluding all non-essential entry into the school, and even refusing entry into the school).  We will ensure that any short-term measures are clearly communicated to you, but please know that these measures are only taken if and when our schools feel that by not doing so, we are putting our children and teachers at risk. Upon return from Spring Break, CEFA schools will continue to be vigilant in monitoring for flu-like symptoms, in accordance with Provincial Health Authority guidelines.

If you and any of your children exhibit any respiratory illness (including colds) you must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset.  This means your child will need to show absolutely no signs of any illness in order to attend care.  It’s about minimizing exposure at this time.

Please know that we are weighing out this situation as it unfolds and awaiting guidance on anticipated financial support for you from the Provincial Government.  But in the interim we understand and worry about each of our families’ financial future.  As such, we are working with all our schools to offer a temporary tuition relief package to families unable to attend our centers due to COVID-19. Our schools will share more information on this for those impacted.

We want nothing more than to be able to continue to care for your children, and we will do everything possible to make it a safe and wonderful environment for everyone. We are in constant communication and are continuing to assess the situation on a daily basis. We thank you for working with us in ensuring we all stay safe during this unprecedented time and rapidly evolving situation.

Together, we can make things better!

Regards,

Alex Read
CEO

Natacha V. Beim
Founder and Executive Chair


COVID-19 Update

Pandemic Policy

Dear Parents,

We have been continuing to monitor the quickly developing situation around the COVID-19 virus and taking guidance from the relevant Health Authorities.

We understand that childcare providers and parents have questions about CEFA programs and services in the event that childcare facilities close as a result of COVID-19. The Ministry of Children and Family Development is monitoring the situation closely on behalf of our industry and we are committed to keeping parents and childcare providers informed.

At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia are not recommending childcare closure strategies for the prevention of COVID-19. Direction may continue to change, and we will update you accordingly.

CLOSURE POLICY

Childcare programs in BC are licensed and regulated through the Ministry of Health, childcare licensing.  As a result, CEFA may be directed by a childcare licensing officers to close operations during a pandemic or other communicable disease outbreak.  CEFA will follow all directives provided from the Ministry of Health.  The legal authority to close a child care program for public health reasons falls under the purview of the local Medical Health Officer and the Provincial Health Officer and their decision overrules any decision to stay open that an individual child care operator or parents may wish to make.

Childcare ratios are required during operation, regardless of a pandemic or communicable disease outbreak.  In the event that enough employees are unable to come into work or are in a quarantine and ratio is not able to be met, CEFA may require reduced operational hours or rotating days off between children.  This decision would be made as required, and would be communicated with parents in writing, via email.

In the event of a short term closure due to a pandemic or communicable disease outbreak (less than 30 days), fees are due and payable as per usual operations to enable us to continue to pay our amazing teachers and maintain services beyond the outbreak.  Any fees payable during closures exceeding 30 days will be determined on a case by case basis.

Fee reductions such as the CCFRI or ACCB are provided through MCFD, and may or may not be provided during required pandemic or communicable disease closures.  Parents may directly contact the MCFD office at 1 888 338-6622, to discuss MCFD’s policy regarding CCFRI or ACCB payments; this decision is sadly outside of CEFA’s authority.

TRAVEL POLICY

New information is being provided daily by the Provincial Health Officer and Minister of Health regarding COVID-19. The Provincial Health Officer has advised against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States. If people do travel outside of Canada, they are asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon return. This would include staying away from both school and work. The federal government has now also warned against all international travel and is limiting inbound flights in order to restrict the spread of COVID-19.

Spring Break is typically a peak travel period and we would request that:

  • Students or staff returning from travel outside of Canada stay home for 14 days after returning home. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop develops symptoms, should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 t to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
  • Students or staff, who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 also stay home for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

We would request all families follow this course of action, and we will continue to monitor this situation and immediately advise accordingly if anything changes.

Upon return from Spring Break, CEFA schools will be monitoring for flu-like symptoms, in accordance with Provincial Health Authority guidelines.  Schools will therefore reserve the right, out of an abundance of caution for the well-being of all students and staff, to amend some operating practices (for example: dropping students off at the door, excluding all non-essential entry into the school, and even refusing entry into the school).

PREVENTION POLICY

Public health officials have consistently recommended that among the most important prevention measures are

  • For people who are sick to stay home; and,
  • For everyone to be mindful of hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing and not touching your face.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS POLICY

Our health and wellness policy continues to apply during a pandemic or communicable disease outbreak, however, additional restrictions may apply, based on government / licensing officer directives.  This may include, but is not limited to, extending our required at-home “symptom free” time period following any symptoms or requiring children with symptoms – even if they are feeling well and have plenty of energy – to remain at home.  Any temporary changes to our health and wellness policy during a pandemic / outbreak will be communicated in writing, via email, and will link to the authorized source of information that our temporary change is based on.

ADDITIONAL CLEANING

In the event of a pandemic or communicable disease outbreak, CEFA, while in operation, will follow additional cleaning measures.  This includes:

  • Using a Ministry of Health-approved sanitizing solution within the program twice a day, to sanitize the facility and all equipment.
  • Any food provided by our program will be served directly to children rather than a family-style or buffet style snack or meal service
  • Increasing handwashing and using social stories and direct teacher instruction with children to promote healthy handwashing habits

INDIVIDUAL EXCLUSIONS

In the event that the Ministry of Health provides a regional or provincial quarantine recommendation for individuals – be it due to international travel, linked to potential exposures, or linked to individual symptoms, CEFA will require all families and children to comply with this recommendation.  In the event this occurs, the Ministry of Health will provide our childcare program with written information; this recommendation will be shared directly with families.  These exclusions will apply equally to all children, families and employees

Authorized sources of information

A pandemic or localized communicable disease outbreak is subject to governance by official sources:  our childcare licensing officers, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Families, and the federal government.  While we appreciate that social media and news sources provide an extensive amount of information, we will respond to official, authorized sources of information only.

A non-biased, inclusive approach

Fear-based responses in times of pandemic or communicable disease, have historically led to actions stemming from bias and self-protective measures.  Not only can these measures lead to conflict between parents, childcare educators, and community members, but they can also lead to actions rooted in racism.  CEFA has an inclusive-based approach and works to be a safe space for all families and children; we will not tolerate acts of racism or bigotry towards any parent, child, employee, or community member.  Any such acts may be subject to an immediate dismissal from our program.

In addition, anyone looking for more information about COVID-19 can visit the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website at: www.bccdc.ca

Again, the health and wellbeing of all our students and staff is of utmost importance. We thank everyone for their understanding during this unprecedented time and rapidly evolving situation.

 

Regards, CEFA Systems.


Does early education really promise a brighter future?

Most parents who send their children to pre-school or junior kindergarten school are very happy with their decision.

Some say it is a great way for children to meet friends, some find it an essential step for them to learn to socialize. Some even notice that their children learn a great deal!  But few of these parents believe deep down that thanks to those pre-school years, their children will be, well, smarter.

How can that be? After all, the academic knowledge given to the child during those years is not so unique compared to elementary school. Does it really matter if a child can read at age three or at age six?  Is it really that important to know all the numbers before kindergarten?  Why not just let them play and enjoy life?

Firstly, the secret ingredient is not in the academic component itself.  Children who attend early education programs are better equipped to learn because they have received the right type and the right amount of stimulation at the right time (which, of course, implies a great academic program!)

Secondly, what most of us don’t realize as adults is that for children, learning is enjoyable.  Take newborn babies, for instance.  When they are not sleeping, they are constantly learning.  They learn to recognize our voices, their environment, the patterns of their mobiles and the many things we are excited to bring closer to them.  One and two year olds are discovering language, and figuring out their role in the household.  They even have their own scientific agenda, which they carry out quite well by experimenting on everything they can find (electrical outlets included).  They are constantly asking us questions! The world is a fascinating place for a young child.  Once they gain a greater understanding of their environment, they need a higher level of reasoning and intellectual stimulation.

From birth until about age six, a child’s brain is forming all the pathways it will use during adult life.  This process considerably slows down after that age.  Those pathways can only be formed through adequate stimulation, which explains why young children are constantly looking to learn. This means that what the child learns early on in life, will determine how much he or she can learn as an adult.  You can compare this process to the child’s physical growth.  A one year old is so much more developed than a one day old, but it is harder to see the difference between a seven year old and an eight year old. As parents, we pay special importance to what our children eat, because we know that it will impact them for life.  If they do not grow at that age, they will certainly not start growing in their thirties (at least most of us have given up hope by then).  Similarly, what you “feed” your child’s brain during the first years of life determines how easily your child will be able to learn, for life.  And since school in Canada officially starts at age five, early education is not only a good idea: it is essential for the proper intellectual development of your child.

A good program is very enjoyable for children. It enables them to keep pursuing their interests at a much more stimulating level.  Of course, not any program will do. A good pre-school or junior kindergarten school will stimulate your child at just the right level, and in many different ways.  Simply providing a nice atmosphere to socialize and a craft project for the day is great fun, but it is not the level of stimulation that your child needs in order to develop adequately.  Instead, look for a program that offers activities that take into consideration each child’s interests and level of understanding, and is varied in nature. Music and arts are just as important at that age, as reading, or science.

This does not mean that your two year old will be sitting at a desk, pen and paper at hand.  Good programs are very creative in their approach to learning, and “disguise” the projects and concepts taught as games and fun activities where your child is always an active participant. Look for a program that can present a challenge as well as a fun, magical environment.

Early education is an essential step in your child’s life, and one to welcome. You may never be able to measure how much it impacted your child, but you can trust that it did, and as much or more than those meals you prepare with such love and care! And, if nothing else, at least you can say that it is a great way for children to meet friends!