Children’s communication during COVID-19: Survey Results

MFL Survey Results (Salinas Marchant, Meloni, MacLeod, 2020)

Early in May 2020, we launched a survey to understand how COVID-19 was impacting children’s communication. We’ll summarize the results and tips below. You can also find the results on ERA at UofA. A total of 201 parents responded who spoke English, French or Spanish at home.

Parents noted that the largest change in communication for children was communication with their friends. Some strategies to continue play with friends includes using video-chats to play games, charades, or board games.

Parents also noted that the needed to have more coaching from teachers or specialists. A key strategy is to clearly define what you need to best support your child. Remembering that each family has their own needs.

Parents also sought information what games would work best for their child. Puppets and play microphones can be a good way to get young one’s talking. Exploring board-games with older children can also build interactions.

One of our favourite resources has been put together by UNICEF.

Last, we are experiencing exceptional and challenging times, so if you or a family member needs help, do not hesitate to seek professional advice.

What has been helpful for you? What have you found hard(est)?

New multilingual book for kids to help cope with COVID-19

As May Speech and Hearing Month begins, I am excited to share this new resource: an international group of experts have worked together to write a children’s book to help families understand and cope with COVID-19. The book has been translated into 37 languages! You can download it for free.

My Hero cover illustration

My Hero is You follow’s Sara as she tries to help children around the world protect themselves and others.  Ario, an orange dragon, caries her on her adventure.  She meets other kids and they talk about what they can do to help: wash your hands with soap and water! wave instead of shaking hands! stay 2 meters apart! They also learn what to do if they feel scared or overwhelmed: take a deep breath or call someone who makes you feel safe.  Ario reassures Sara that  it is normal to miss people that we can’t see right now, and that sometimes it’s hard to be have to stay in your home.  

It’s a great read for parents with young children, and older children can read it on their own.  My eyes did water at the end “You are a hero to all those who love you.”


* Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychocosocial Support in Emergency Settings and experts from 104 countries.

Reflections during Covid-19

While I’ve been meaning to get this blog going for years, I found finding the time challenging.  During Covid-19, I am working from home and homeschooling with my partner and I miss the regular interactions with my lab members and the department.

Our lab has gotten used to having meetings with me via Skype during my mat leaves.  I also commuted quite far for my old job, and so worked from home about 6 days a month. These tended to be good days to catch up on research progress with everyone  – but remotely.   Although we have used remote meetings quite a bit, we are each struggling with the physical distance from a shared work space. We are feeling pressure to be more productive, or fit productivity around our family commitments, or to be productive during moments of existential angst. It’s hard.

I’ve set up weekly virtual lab meetings and we are working an a common project. We  will keep checking in and find a new path through these difficult times.