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I’m writing this on the first day of our school closure in Ohio due to the coronavirus outbreak. When I heard the news that Governor Mike DeWine announced that all private and public schools are mandated to shut down for 3-weeks starting on March 16th I was pretty shocked. I knew it was likely to happen since nearby colleges were closing, but I didn’t think it would happen in our city as well.
Initially, I was just annoyed by the fact that our family’s routine would be disrupted. I was already stressed about what to do over the summer as far as camps and child care. But, now there are an extra four weeks to think about (our district has an extra week due to a planned spring break).
Then I became scared for the families with children who don’t have the ability to afford daycare for their kids. And for the families who depend on school breakfast and lunches to feed their kids. Fortunately, people in our community are coming together to help with the situation.
I am trying to see the best in all of this craziness and uncertainty. Like being grateful for spending more time with my daughter. And the fact that it’s actually feeling like spring now and we can spend time outside.
With the closures due to the coronavirus, I wanted to put together some resources for family’s to help make the best of this time.
Basic Tips for Managing Anxiety
Any situation that brings uncertainty can cause anxiety, especially when it may affect our health or the health of our loved ones. These are a few tips that may help during this stressful time:
1. Limit media exposure and stick with reliable sources – It’s tempting to check for updates, especially when everyone is posting all of the latest news on Facebook. But, checking several times a day can keep you in an escalated state of anxiety. Focusing on catastrophic thoughts and predictions can make you feel panicked.
For example, one person goes out and buys enough toilet paper to last a year, then everyone thinks that must be what they need to do as well. Panicking makes other people panic.
Instead, stay calm and stick to reliable sources of information such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
2. Maintain healthy habits – In times of stress, we are more likely to stop the very things that keep us well. These include things like eating healthy foods, exercising, and practicing self-care.
It can truly help your stress levels and overall well being if you stick to your exercise routine. If your gym is closed due to the coronavirus, then at home workouts are a great option.
Take the time to go outside and go for a walk. Spend time playing with your family. Do normal things. This will help you feel more normal and more in control.
3. Take precautions, but don’t overdo it – Make sure to wash your hands frequently, especially when visiting public places. In addition, the CDC also recommends avoiding places with large crowds. However, long-term isolation can be damaging to your mental well-being.
So, if you do plan to stay at home for long periods of time, make sure to call friends and family frequently to avoid social isolation. Don’t forget to call your grandparents and other elderly relatives and friends who may be hesitant to reach out. A small act like a phone call can make a big difference in a person’s day.
4. Engage in mindfulness meditation to reduce your reactivity to anxiety. We can’t always control how stressful situations, but we can decide how we react to them. One of the best methods for coping with anxiety is mindfulness meditation — I would recommend at least 10 minutes per day if you’re able. If you’re not familiar with mindfulness meditation, try getting started with a smartphone app that uses research-supported techniques and provides you with training. I really like using Headspace and Buddhify.
This was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook and it has been so helpful to me:
“Some advice to all the parents of young children who will be home for the next three weeks:
1. I learned the hard way during the 9/11 crisis that we left the news on way too much and talked about adult subjects in front of our youngest son ( who was in 2nd grade) and without realizing it we caused him a lot of fear and anxiety that came out later. Turn the TV off or send them outside to play. Talk about these scary adult topics in private and when you do talk about them do so in a way that does not strike fear in them of the unknown especially in your small ones. They are not yet equipped to handle these tough subjects.
2. Embrace these next 3 weeks with joy, positive attitudes and make memories you can look back on in years to come! We loved Monopoly tournaments, Uno contests, chess games, 500 Rummy that can be increased to 5000 rummy and play for days! Go for hikes, do puzzles together, learn new recipes & cook together, don’t be afraid to embrace new challenges with your kids! Make scrapbooks together from past vacations. Read chapter books! I treasure every moment we got to spend with our three sons -the time is so fleeting!
3. Encourage your kids to document these next three weeks. Write journals, do a picture book together with photo documenting, draw pictures. It will be a month they will never forget and it will be so fun to look back on when they get older.
4. Talk more!
5. Hug them more!
6. Read the Bible together and pray as a family!
7. Watch movies together!
8. Plan future adventures together!
9. Most importantly – treasure these moments and let them know you WANT to spend time with them.
10. Go ahead and drink that glass of wine after they go to bed?!
Three weeks probably seems long now but when they are all grown up 3 weeks is a drop in a bucket! Embrace IT!
My advice for the day?!”
FREE Educational Resources
Our district has an already planned spring break following the three week closure period, so my daughter will be home from school for four weeks. That is a long time out of school, so I’ve gathered a few resources to help us stay on top of her academic work.
1. Websites and Apps offering FREE Educational Resources – These are subscriptions and resources that are being offered for FREE during school closures. Some include ABC Mouse, BookCreator App, Free Math, and HippoCampus. Click the button below to open the google doc:
2. Coronavirus Social Story – This social story was created by Amanda McGuinness, founder of the website Little Puddins: Autism Educator. This is a FREE Coronavirus Social Story to help alleviate fears and anxiety many children may be experiencing at this time. I love how it explains what is happening in simple terms that children can easily understand. Click the button below to visit Amanda’s site for the free download.
3. We Are Teachers: Here are 30 of the top sources for free teacher resources including lesson plans and activities created by fellow professional educators.
4. 10 Great Free Websites for Elementary School – These are free websites for elementary age students. Out of the hundreds of K-5 websites they’ve rated, these are some of Common Sense Educations’s favorites.
5. Homeschool Schedule from Hustle and Homeschool – This is the schedule that I’ll be using during our school’s closure. It’s great to have structure during the day to make sure we cover all of our academic subjects during the day.
Paid Printables and Resources
No-Prep Distant Learning Bundle from A Dab of Glue Will Do – These zero prep, no prep literacy, and no prep math activities are perfect to send home with students for distance learning or as a review over spring break or over the summer break as a review. They are all Kindergarten standards-based but can be used as a review or as a challenge for older or younger students.
Homeschool schedule from The Ox Mama – A great schedule to keep your days organized! The details are free in the blog post, or you can download a printable schedule for only $1!
I hope these resources are helpful to you and your family. If you have additional resources you would like to share, please let me know in the comments!