Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

COVID-19 Special Edition: A Different World

COVID-19 Special Edition: A Different World

While the coronavirus pandemic has changed many things around the world, it has not stopped child development. In this series of special episodes of The Brain Architects podcast, we aim to share helpful resources and ideas in support of all those who are caring for children while dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. The first guest of this special series is Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff. He and host Sally Pfitzer discuss how to support healthy child development during a pandemic, including the importance of caring for caregivers. They also talk about what we've already learned as a result of the coronavirus, and what we hope to continue learning. Upcoming episodes of this special series will focus on how pediatricians are responding, racial disparities in the impact of the virus, and more. Subscribe below via your podcast platform of choice to receive all new episodes as soon as they’re released. Speakers Sally Pfitzer, Podcast Host Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Center Director Transcript Sally: Welcome to The Brain Architects, a podcast from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. I’m your host, Sally Pfitzer. Since our last podcast episode was released, things have changed quite drastically as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. During this unprecedented time, we would like to share resources and provide guidance that you may find helpful, so we’re creating a series of podcasts episodes that address COVID-19 and how it relates to child development. Our guest today is Center Director, Dr. Jack Shonkoff. Jack, thanks so much for joining us. Jack: Thank you, Sally. It’s always a pleasure. Sally: So just so our listeners know, we’re recording this on a video call, so the sound quality will be a little different from when we are in the studio. We hope these conversations will be useful anyway. Especially to those parents, childcare providers, social workers, teachers, healthcare providers and any others who are with children every day during this crisis. So, I’ll start with the first one. Jack, how do you think the pandemic may be affecting very young children, so the infants and toddlers? There has been a lot of attention to the need for distance learning for older kids. But, what do you think about what these younger children might need? Jack: That’s a really important question, Sally, because this pandemic is different from anything that any of us have experienced around the world. Basic principles of child development, basic concepts of the science that we know don’t change, then I would say from my perspective try it on both the best science we have and the best common sense that once again this is all about relationships. This is all about the environment of relationships in which young children are developing and which they are growing up. So, the risk of the conversation is how do we feel that in this context, but it’s not a difference science, it’s not a different understanding of what children need, it’s just a different world right now. Sally: Yeah. So, I am sure many of our listeners have heard this term "social distancing," but I know that it is also lately being referred to as the need for physical distancing. Can you talk a little bit more about the science behind that, and what it means for children? Jack: Yeah, this is the question that I’m most concerned about. There are two different bodies of science that we are talking about right now. Normally, we talk about the science of early childhood development—science of brain development—and now we are also dealing with the science of infectious disease. It’s really physical distancing that we are talking about. Actually, social distancing is exactly what we don’t want if social distancing means that we get further apart in terms of our interactions socially as opposed to physically. Let me just talk a little bit about each. So,

Duration: 21 min

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