HARWINTON — Two women recently published a book that addresses the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s lives and education, and offers ways to help them cope.
Kaylee Viets, a Harwinton native and Region 10 graduate, is a school-based speech language pathologist. She and fellow speech pathologist Julianne Reis of Mahopac, N.Y., were troubled by “the lack of kid-friendly resources to help their understanding of the global situation,” according to Viets.
“I was finishing my last semester of graduate school at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City just as COVID-19 started to swiftly overwhelm the tri-state area,” Viets said. “In the midst of virtual learning and adapting to teletherapy, a fellow speech-language pathologist (Reis) came to me in May with an idea. She felt both inspired by her own two young children’s resilience and creativity amid all of the stress and significant lifestyle changes, and crestfallen by the lack of kid-friendly resources available to help them in their understanding of the global situation.”
“For us, it was important to acknowledge that parents are at home with kids, and they need to be entertained,” Viets said. “Julianne’s kids are two and four years old and they need interaction.”
The two women began developing resources to include on the book and its accompanying website, www.speechandgo.com. Reis started writing the book, and “between Zoom classes and virtual speech-language therapy in my small NYC apartment, I began to draw,” Viets said.
The book is intended to help children understand the coronavirus, how to prevent spreading germs by using masks, washing their hands and social distancing. It also helps them understand the importance of staying home, and the steps their communities have taken to reopen safely, according to Viets.
Both author and artist said the book has a focus on speech pathology and education. “In our resources, there’s a big focus on the new vocabulary kids are being exposed to, like the word ‘pandemic,’ for example,” Viets said. “We’re also going to publish, to the site, some educational packages for teachers and therapists; vocabulary lists with discussion questions.”
Viets said there are many activities and education programs online, in response to distance learning and its challenges. “But our goal is to explain (the pandemic) in a calm manner,” she said. “We want to create an opportunity where people can have their own reflections and discussion.”
“The book contains themes of creativity and strength in community, and highlights the importance of giving back. We hope that our story helps children better understand and cope with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as feel appreciated for their own role in overcoming major challenges,” Viets said.
A portion of the book’s net proceeds will be divided between charities aiding families in need, such as Feeding America.
So far, the book is selling well; 200 preorders have been received, and Reis and Viets are filling orders from home and mailing them out. An e-book is available on Amazon.com, and the print version should be available soon, Viets said.
The website, www.speechandgo.com, includes free activities, resources and printable worksheets for educators, therapists and parents/caregivers to do with their children. “With more people learning and working from home, it is our hope that this can serve as a useful resource during these uncertain times,” Viets said.
The book can be ordered online at www.speechandgo.com.