As children return to school in the fall they may be experiencing more than just the first day of school jitters. Social isolation, institutional strain, and economic hardship have contributed to increased mental health challenges among children and adolescents. After a year of changing school environments and routines, isolation, loss, and uncertainty children will require time and space to recover and relearn to trust not only in the systems and adults who care for them but also in themselves. Children will need opportunities that build confidence and self-esteem lost to a year of unprecedented challenges that have left them unsure of their own light that shines from within.
Spirituality for Kids International Inc. (SFK) is an educational non-profit that builds social-emotional learning (SEL). SEL content and programs equip children with the tools to adapt, grow and learn the life skills needed to face adversity and challenges. After a year like no other children need opportunities to explore interests, identify strengths, and tap into the support that will help them to feel safe again. Through evidenced and asset-based curriculum, videos, and hands-on activities, SFK teaches children viable ways to tap into their inner strengths and see their true potential. Using a unique and immersive learning experience, SFK strives to support children and those who care for them in home, school, and community settings by strengthening relationships, developing self-awareness, and teaching tools for responsible decision making.
Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work with the team at SFK reviewing materials and videos that help children trust in themselves, learn to recognize their own gifts, and identify helpers who encourage children to become all they can be. I have found them to be innovative thinkers and always open to fresh ideas. Their new short-form video series is no exception. SFK wants to know what parents, caregivers, and professionals think about their videos and accompanying materials. They are requesting you watch the following videos and answer a short survey in hopes to acquire data that will help the organization to know if they are hitting their mark
None of us were prepared for the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown, and it’s hard to tell what effect this whole ordeal has had on our children. Now, as schools make plans to reopen, kids and parents have to navigate a whole new set of challenges. Will your children be able to pick up where they left off? Do they need help getting up to speed on their studies? Can you protect your family from COVID-19 when your kids return to their crowded classrooms? Here are some great resources to answer your questions and prepare your kids for a smooth back-to-school transition.
Smoothing the Transition
Your kids may be excited to go back to school, but they may also feel a little overwhelmed by the abrupt change.
Encourage your kids to talk about their concerns.
Have your children start going to bed earlier a week or two before school starts again.
Plan school lunches and weeknight meals ahead of time to reduce household stress.
Your child may benefit from the support of a Certified Child Life Specialist.
Learning at Home
Help your children get back on track with their studies by supporting learning at home.
Make sure your kids have a calm and quiet place to study at home.
Look for teachable moments throughout your daily life.
Research at-home educational resources online.
Find ways to apply what your kids are learning in school to real-world situations.
If you have younger kids, read with them every night.
While schools are reopening with special plans in place to protect students and educators, don’t hesitate to take your own COVID-19 precautions.
Encourage your kids to choose outdoor play when possible.
Deep clean and disinfect the surfaces in your home frequently.
It’s okay if your children are worried or anxious about returning to school after such a long and unexpected break. The transition back to school may be easier for some kids than others. Do what you can to help your kids adjust, and they’ll be back in the swing of things soon enough—kids are amazingly adaptable!
Guest Blogger, Deb Vilas. Originally posted at PediaPlay
During this time of the coronavirus, school closings are causing tremendous stress for all parents, especially working parents whose child care options are limited or nonexistent. While your children are at home, providing a wide range of play activities will help ratchet down anxiety, promote healthy expression of feelings, and it might even be a unique opportunity to strengthen your relationship and attachment to one another. As a child life specialist, I have spent my career in hospitals helping children and families play as part of the family-centered care approach to healing. Today, I am going to share some ideas for keeping your children calm, happy, and occupied.
Some of the best “toys” are what we call “loose parts”, stuff you have lying around the house or in your recycle bin. Kids love to create, and cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, string, wood, paper, popsicle sticks, cotton balls, yarn, chopsticks, tape, glue, cloth, q-tips, pipe cleaners, art materials, any recyclable item, shoe boxes ….etc. are all inventions waiting to be imagined. You can put out materials without any direction, or you can give your children prompts such as “Make your own 3-D version of a corona virus”, or “Build something that would make this world a better place, either reality-based or make believe.” Once they get started, projects may morph into other ideas.
Kids Need to Move Their Bodies
Kids need to move their bodies every day. If you are able to take them outside to run, climb, and jump, that is terrific. But if you are stuck inside, children can do jumping jacks, push ups against a wall, with feet or hands, and other exercises to release pent up energy. Make exercise a part of their daily routine, and everyone will be the better for it.
Playing with Grandparents
Many of you may be concerned about your parents, and checking in with them via video chat can be good for the whole family. Play maps (see article within this publication) are a great connecting activity to do via video chat that can spark many shared stories. All you need is plain paper, pens, pencils, crayons or markers, and your childhood memories. Draw a map of your indoor play space from childhood, and then your outdoor play space, filling in all the play activities you recall from your childhood years. Have your child do the same, and your parent too. Maybe play some favorite music in the background while you all draw. Then share all the stories behind your drawings. You might be surprised what you have in common, and what play activities you’ve never talked about. Consider video taping the activity to save these wonderful memories.
Kids love to build forts and hide in them. A bedsheet or table cloth can turn furniture into a fort. Children can have a picnic, read, play, and even sleep in their fort for a change in routine.
Kids young and old enjoy playing about things they are trying to understand or are worried about. If you have a medical play kit at home, bring it out with some dolls or stuffed animals, and encourage your children to create a doctor’s office or a vet clinic. If you can, add real life medical items, like gauze, pill bottles, syringes. Give them a pencil and pad to write down doctor notes on. This activity gives children the chance to ask questions about the coronavirus. Try your best to answer questions honestly and simply. Try not to direct or interrupt their play, as they know exactly what they need to play out.
Sensory play is great for toddlers and preschoolers, but it is also soothing for older kids and adults. It can be as simple as a bin of soapy water with straws, Legos, and bath toys. Shaving cream, sand, making homemade play dough, and finger painting with pudding (and then eating it) are a few other examples of sensory play. Pinterest has many additional ideas and instructions.
Old Fashioned Games
Perhaps you will get some ideas from the play map activity from your parents. There are a ton of old fashioned games that children have played over the generations that don’t need props or toys. Hide and Seek, clapping games, pretend play, guessing games, and charades are some examples. If you play these games with your children, allow them to take the lead as much as possible. They may make up their own rules, which is great for their imagination.
All you need is some string or shoelaces, and you can teach your child some great string games and stories. There is a ton to learn on youtube, and maybe your parents have a few up their sleeves as well.
Use loose parts and art materials to create personal worry dolls. Children can tell these dolls their worries and the dolls will do the worrying while you child sleeps, so that s/he doesn’t have to. another activity to release worries involves making a playdough volcano, writing down worries on scraps of paper, placing them inside the volcano, and exploding it. There are plenty of volcano recipes on the internet.
Many of us have great childhood memories of playing board games and card games. If you have a few decks of cards, your kids can use youtube to learn a new (old) game such as Spit, War, Canasta or Pinochle. Building upon the loose parts concept, consider having your kids create their own board game and then play it with one another. The cooperative spirit of making a game can bolster sibling connection.
Minimize Screen time
The last thought I want to leave with you is this. This time, although stressful, may have a silver lining. It may be the jumpstart your kids need to get off of their devices, and into their imaginations. Encourage healthy limits on the amount of screen time your youngsters partake in. Involve them in your daily chores of cooking and cleaning, and play, play, play!