Assembling tools and resources to help talk to kids about coronavirus, support others as a family, and find success with at-home learning, we hope to help our fellow families navigate COVID-19.
CONVERSATION STARTERS – TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT COVID-19
There are lots of “how to talk to your kids” guides popping up. One of our favorites is Talking with Children About Coronavirus, a worksheet from The Fred Rogers Center. The CDC has their own version, and PBS NewsHour published 10 tips for talking about COVID-19 with your kids. Common recommendations include monitoring news intake, communicating calmly, setting clear expectations around safety and good habits, and establishing a safe space for emotions and questions.
The PBS NewsHour piece, authored by journalist, Wendy Thomas Russell, challenges us to, as best we can, embrace this time. “The days ahead will be different for us all, and difficult for some of us.” She says, “But this need not be a bad time for your family. You and your child will get through this — and, if you’re lucky, you may even be a little better for it in the end.”
A Kids Book About COVID-19
We’re big fans of the A Kids Book About books. Great design, even better messages. Designed to make sense of important, complex topics, the series tackles everything from adventure and gratitude to racism and body image. And now there’s an edition about COVID-19. It’s free and available as both a Spanish and English e-book. We especially like the print-friendly option!
SUPPORTING + ENCOURAGING OTHERS AS A FAMILY
Let Your House Say Hi!
Neighborhoods around the world are responding to social distancing in a delightful, unifying way – with decorated windows, driveways, and homes! Understanding that, for many, a walk is the only reprieve from at-home time, houses sport rainbows of encouragement, bears and stuffed animals peeking out of windows (a movement inspired by the children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt), ‘thank you’ messages to medical staff, and even chalk art.
Simple and free, it’s a fun activity to work on as a family. Plus, it affords a nice teaching moment, allowing parents to start a conversation about why it’s important to encourage others even though we may be upset, worried or isolated.
Reach Out to the Lonely
Remember those who are especially isolated and lonely, particularly the elderly. It’s a great time for letter writing and phone calls to family member who live alone. And beyond our own families, there are lots of ways to care for people facing loneliness.
Here in Seattle, The Kenney Pen Pal Program, lets you become a pen pal for a West Seattle Senior. And if you’re interested in reaching beyond our region, you can submit a letter (or letters!) through Love for the Elderly. The organization collects cards and mails them to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and senior centers around the world. (They have relationships with facilities in more than 66 countries!) With the current visitor restrictions and lockdown of facilities, their mission is more important than ever. We encourage you to check out their guidelines for writing to an elderly pen pal if you’re unsure of where to start.
Support Our Community
For many of our neighbors and community members, the pandemic has been life-altering. There are countless ways to give support, but we’ve assembled our short list – vetted, worthy organizations and ideas that will help care for our community and those most in need.
SUCCESSFUL AT-HOME LEARNING
Opportunities in STEM
STEM has to be our first plug, especially with all the great resources released recently! KidsQuest Children’s Museum has launched a series of interactive educational videos focused on STEAM concepts. We love the play-based learning, science experiments, art activities, and stories! All the videos are available on the museum’s YouTube channel (@KidsQuestCM). STEM from the Start has resources for parents, helping them facilitate STEM lessons at home. And Full STEAM Ahead, a program from MIT, is releasing weekly learning packages. Each package has daily, age-specific activities (K-12) as well as reflections for teachers and parents.
Many parents find themselves juggling parent, homeschool teacher, and employee roles. It’s a lot to balance, but educational platforms are helping out, moving their content online, offering free lessons, and supplying tools for parents.
Scholastic Learn at Home is offering free online resources during the crisis, including 20 days of lessons for grades pre-K to 9 and up to three hours of lessons a day. BrainPOP’s many modules (including one about coronavirus) are free during school closures, and parents will find the lesson ideas, quizzes and “teach this topic” guides helpful. Countless more are available too. The National School Choice Week site’s allows you to read summaries and sort available resources by subject. And TODAY published, “How to home-school during the coronavirus crisis with free resources,” which provides links to not only academic resources, but physical education tools, printable activity sheets, and creative outlets. (One of our favorite creative outlets listed: Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence at Home!)
Beyond the Digital Classroom
When kids are done with their digital classroom work, there’s still lots to learn and do. Many independent artists are releasing inventive activities for kids. One of our favorites is by artist Jill Dryer, who created Camp Anywhere Activities, a “virtual summer camp for stay-at-home times.” The downloadable, kid-friendly collection includes camp-themed bingo, a Portland-themed board game, and even templates to make your Matchbox cars race-ready!
There’s also time for a good book! Audible launched stories.audible.com, a collection that allows listen to hundreds of Audible titles for free. (Yes parents, there are titles there for you too!)
And of course, we wouldn’t be true Pacific Northwest folks if we didn’t recommend some time outdoors! (Don’t forget to practice safe social distancing!) Take a neighborhood stroll (noting homes’ decorations!), get crafty designing a face from foraged nature finds (we love the #facethefoliage trend!), or go on a nature scavenger hunt (use this Scavenger Hunt from WTA or create your own)!