Helping Your Children Return to School After Coronavirus Closures

Guest Blogger, Jenna Sherman of Parent-Leaders

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.
Avoiding COVID-19

While schools are reopening with special plans in place to protect students and educators, don’t hesitate to take your own COVID-19 precautions. 

  • Send your kids to school with effective hand sanitizer.
  • Make handwashing a fun activity for your kids.
  • 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!

Related Articles

Supporting Children and Teens During COVID-19

Supporting Families Through Virtual Child Life Services

 

Kids at Home? Staying Sane Through the Power of Play

Guest Blogger, Deb Vilas. Originally posted at PediaPlay

School Closings

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.

Loose Parts

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.

Indoor Forts

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.

Medical Play

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

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.

String Games

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.

Worry Dolls

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.

Board Games

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!

Undoing Racism: Child Life Professional Development Workshop

Child Life of Greater NY is sponsoring an Undoing Racism workshop of Oct. 25 & 26 in New York City.

Join us for the workshop Undoing Racism. This workshop, using the lens of healthcare and its intersection with race will support Child Life Specialists as they examine their own bias, provide tools for dismantling and disrupting policies that diminish the very voices we aim to amplify.

The Undoing Racism​TM​/Community Organizing workshop is an intensive 2-day workshop designed to educate, challenge and empower people to “undo” the racist structures that hinder effective social change. The training is based on the premise that racism has been systematically constructed and that it can be “undone” when people understand where it comes from, how it functions, why it is perpetuated, and what we can do to dismantle it.

The workshop is offered by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national, multiracial, anti-racist collective of veteran organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social change. Since its founding in 1980, The People’s Institute has trained over 1 million people in hundreds of communities throughout the United States and internationally. It is recognized as one of the most effective anti-racist training and organizing institutions in the nation. ​www.pisab.org

The workshop addresses the following areas:
Analyzing power – ​Effective organizing requires an accurate analysis of the systems that keep racism in place. The training examines why people are poor, how institutions and organizations perpetuate the imbalance of power, and who benefits from the maintenance of the status quo.

Recognizing the internalized manifestations of racial oppression – ​The training explores how internalized racial oppression manifests itself both as Internalized Racial ​Inferiority and Internalized Racial ​Superiority​.

Defining racism – ​To undo racism, organizers and educators must understand what racism is, and how and why it was constructed. The training explores how the idea of “race” was created to implement systems that benefit some people and oppress and disadvantage others.

Understanding the manifestations of racism – ​Racism operates in more than just individual and institutional settings. The training examines the dynamics of cultural racism, linguistic racism, and militarism as applied racism.

Learning from history – ​Racism has distorted, suppressed and denied the histories of people of color and white people as well. The training demonstrates that a full knowledge of history is a necessary organizing tool as well as a source of personal and collective empowerment.

Sharing culture – ​The training process demonstrates that even as racism divides people, sharing culture unites us. Cultural sharing is a critical organizing tool and is central to the training.

Organizing to “Undo Racism​TM​”​ – ​The training explores principles of effective organizing, strategic techniques for supporting Poor communities getting a sense of their own power, the importance of accountability to community, and the internal dynamics of leadership development.

When: Event will be held on both Friday, October 25th and Saturday, October 26th from 9 am-5 pm. Lunch will be provided.
Where: Please note that the event will be held in two locations: The Interchurch Center and Bank Street College of Education- more information provided after sign up.

Limited spots available for this event. Please contact us at CLGNYconference@gmail with questions.

Click here to register