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  • Finland's Prime Minister Holds Press Conference So Kids Can Ask Questions About COVID-19

    The officials took the children's questions seriously and validated their concerns.
    by Kitty Elicay .
  • It’s been over a month since the enhanced community quarantine was implemented in Metro Manila. While some kids may be too young to understand why there’s a need to stay indoors, older kids will definitely have questions about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the extended quarantine period. (Find an easy way to explain the virus here.) Some might even be feeling anxious or worried about everything that’s happening. (Read how you can reassure your kids here.)

    As the youngest members of society, children’s voices also need to be heard. In Finland, the government took this matter seriously by holding their first press conference for children. Instead of adult reporters, kids had the chance to ask members of the parliament their most pressing questions about COVID-19.

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    Just like the Philippines, Finland’s school-aged children have continued their classes at home since March 2020, using distance learning and logging on to online lessons. They are used to attending classes through video conference and submitting their essays online.

    On April 24, teachers gave their students a unique assignment: to tune in to a press conference with government officials including Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Minister of Education Li Andersson, and Minister of Science and Culture Hanna Kosonen.

     Seven children between 7 and 12 years old were presented as journalists representing different media outlets. The children participated from their homes or through the media outlets’ studios. They voiced out the concerns that were likely on the minds of Finland’s more than half a million schoolchildren, including:

    “When can we return to school?”
    “Can we go swim in the summer?”
    “Will we be able to go to the amusement park?”
    “What will happen with our spring festival?”
    “When can we meet our grandparents?”
    “Is the situation in Finland good?”
    “Is it fair that at distance school some kids can sleep longer than others?”
    “What can we do if we’re feeling stressed or scared because of the situation?”

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    The ministers took each question seriously, answering calmly and speaking in simple words that the children could easily understand. It was also broadcasted in Finnish and Swedish, the country’s two main official languages, and was simultaneously interpreted in Finnish sign language.

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    A child named Ia asked, “How long do you think it will be until corona is over and everything is back to normal?”

    To which Minister Andersson replied, “That’s a very good question that Ia asked, but it’s also very difficult to answer… We in the government believe that we will probably have to be mindful of corona for quite a long time. And the rules that we’ve decided upon together, about how important it is to wash your hands and keep your distance from other people and not visit your grandparents in person… we believe that we will have to follow these rules for quite a long time in Finland, even in the autumn.”

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    The ministers also encouraged kids to stay in touch with relatives and friends, especially their grandparents, as a response to kids asking what they can do for their country during this time.

    “Of course, children’s most important job right now is to keep up with their distance learning, to make sure they keep learning even though this school isn’t like what we’re used to. And of course it’s very important to stay in touch with relatives and friends and other people. I think that many grandparents are very happy when somebody calls up and asks how it’s going and tells them what’s been going on,” Prime Minister Marin said.

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    Andersson said, “Another thing that you can do, and that I think is very important, is that you take care of not only your grandparents, but also your friends. If you notice that you haven’t spoken with one of your classmates for a long time, or if someone seems a bit down, or hasn’t been participating in distance learning like usual, then it’s absolutely a good idea to reach out and ask if everything is OK and if you can help.”

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    “We can cheer each other up,” Kosonen added.

    If your kids have questions about COVID-19, what would it be? Send it to smartparentingsubmissions@gmail.com with the subject, “Kids Ask.” We’d love to hear from them and answer their questions!

    A 6-year-old actually wrote to us with her solution to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Galing 'di ba? Read it here.

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