Is your family surviving or thriving during this time of social distancing with spending more time with family members in social isolation and the general uncertainty of Coronavirus? We need to remember our children and teens can sense when adults feel anxious or nervous in our current situation. After hearing the nightly news reporting the coronavirus' effects, it may add to everyone's stress. Paying too much attention to things that you cannot change can leave family members feeling constant worry. Mental health is essential as much as physical health at this time.
In troubling times, it is crucial to comfort your child or teen. It is essential to talk to your children about how you are feeling and how they are feeling. When communicating, it is useful to come down to their level, both verbally and physically. Be honest with them that you may or don't have all the answers to the coronavirus situation. While expressing your concerns, you need to instill hope mentally, too.
Teens, children, and people are missing their relationships with peers and group relationships On any weekday in schools across West Virginia before March 16th, many students exchange warm greetings with teachers, then perhaps move on to a morning check-in, followed by a quick mindfulness exercise to start the day grounded and mentally focused. They were surrounded by peers they’ve known for months, or perhaps even years—and a teacher they see daily—kids felt connected.
Now, schools are closed, and the children feel cut off from their peers and teachers. According to one study, “Simply talking about our problems and sharing our negative emotions with someone we trust can be profoundly healing—reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.” Communication helps with coping and healing.
We need to seek new avenues for our children who now do not have direct access to school-based services, counselors, and social workers. It might be the process of connecting via video conferences, apps, and phone calls or working directly with teachers. These options need to embed social and emotional practices into their remote communication.
Yes, there are apps that we can start using to provide everything from breathing exercises, and journaling prompts to quick options to check on a students’ mental health. There is SuperBetter app
, which uses digital games like “fulfilling a quest” or “recruiting allies” to teach kids social and emotional skills like cooperation and persistence. The popular Calm app
, which focuses on relaxation, also features activities just for kids.
Another concern for both parents and caregivers is keeping students on track to reach their individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives as they are tailored for each student. Every partner involved, teachers and parents/caregivers, are working together to support this learning at home for the children. In some cases, students are accustomed to having aides, in addition to teachers, in the classroom. It is a lot of responsibility for parents/caregivers to bear, but luckily some of the digital tools now available can help.
FREE APPS OR APPS WITH A FREE TRIAL
My PlayHome is a free app that gives kids a digital doll family of up to 15 people in various skin tones with whom they can explore, play, and share stories with other people. These shared stories help to increase student verbalizations, provide a place for social and emotional learning, and teach necessary early language skills.
SoundingBoard is a free mobile augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app designed for children who are unable to speak (or who have limited speech) to help them communicate. To meet the needs of this particular population, the app comes with preloaded boards using symbols with recorded messages. Students select and press images on the board to prompt a verbal message.
LetterSchool promotes early literacy and numeracy skills by guiding children to tap, touch, and trace colorful animations. Children learn letter formation, letter sounds and names, spelling, counting, and other preschool and primary skills. This app, which offers a free trial, also does an excellent job of developing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
Tales2Go, an audiobook service that offers a free one-month trial, helps students who struggle to read while boosting their listening skills. This app has an extensive collection of stories and books for all ages, with scores of splendid narrators who bring stories from every genre to life.
Epic! is an e-library that is great for supporting reluctant or struggling readers. It provides access to more than 20,000 high-quality children’s books and educational videos and includes an assortment of both fiction and nonfiction books from prominent publishers. Epic is offering free access to schools that can extend it to parents during this time.
Source: Clare, Edutopia, March 2020.
We hope that you, your family, and the children are thriving and keeping well during the coronavirus crisis.