Getting Active at Home

Getting Active at Home

Written by: Jennifer VanEtten

With holiday goodies in the past and 2021 resolutions in full swing, you may be searching for new ways to increase your kid’s activity level! While a sunny summer and warm autumn allowed for easy access to outdoor activities during the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, the damp winter weather may feel like a barrier. But with a bit of creativity, enthusiasm, and lots of free online videos, apps, and tutorials, kids can break out in sweat and giggles in no time!

The CDC recommends that children age 3-5 should get at least 3 hours of active play per day while children ages 6-17 should engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. While these guidelines may seem a bit daunting, even a short intense movements and long durations of small movements add up! 

Everyday Movement Around the Home (all ages)
Have any old balloons at home? If no, you can find them at any dollar store! An ongoing game of “don’t let the balloon touch the ground” can be a family favorite and easy entertainment for younger kiddos. During dull moments, pick up the balloon and start tapping it around!
Turn chores and everyday tasks into a race. Whoever can clean their room the fastest gets to pick a movie to watch later. Record the time it takes to get dressed in the morning, can your child beat their own record? Making these daily tasks a fun competition can increase time efficiency and heart rate!
Has binge watching Netflix become a new hobby? Turn the time between shows into an activity break! Some fun activities during this time could be a race to the other side of the home, a quick game of tag, or partner sit-ups and jumping jacks!

Sworkit Kid Workouts (options for all ages)
Sworkit is a fitness app for adults that recently released free workouts, warm-ups, strength training, and wiggle-eliminating video tutorials for all ages! Their content is accessible through the app store and free online.

Cosmic Kids Yoga (ages 3-6)
This YouTube channel provides a fantastical adventure through various themes of yoga instruction. They offer a range of 2 to 30 minute videos exploring various poses, mantras, and fun yoga practices that will have kids feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

NFL Play 60″ 
This app, created by The American Heart Association, is a fun way for young football fans to engage in a game that gives points for physical activity! Children have to get up and move to get their players in the game and train them for action.

Learn How to Dance (ages 12-17)
Your kids may be seeing all of the latest dance moves on Tik Tok and Fortnite– with these tutorials from Bao, they can learn them! In his clips, Bao breaks down various dance moves and teaches them in easy-to-follow tutorials on Youtube, Tik Tok, and Instagram. 

When planning activites and setting expectations for exercise, it is important to remember that children will model what they see. If caregivers make exercise a fun activity that is a part of their everyday routine, kids are more likely to pick up on these habits. The benefits of exercising and prioritizing movement with children include an endless list of improved health outcomes for the entire family!



Talking with Children About Current Events

Talking with Children About Current Events

Written by: Emalise Mitchell 

Right now, children and youth have ongoing exposure to emotional national news, COVID-19 information, and acts of racial injustice and unrest. Even if children are not actively engaged with the news, they pick up information through adult conversations and background television and radio. Stressful current events are abundant.

What are some tips for talking about the news and current events?
Avoid the temptation to downplay.
As caregivers, we are often tempted to downplay seriousness when children are exposed to traumatic news. This is often because we want to protect children from worry and burden. However, caregivers can share simplified and honest information with children. Doing this helps your child to make sense of what they see and hear.

Reinforce safety
When children hear about chaotic current events, their first response is to think about whether they are safe, even if the event is not happening near to them. In times like these, remind your child that you will always protect them.

Stick to the facts
As much as possible, stay neutral when presenting the facts about what is happening in the news or in your community. It is best to focus on the facts of a situation rather than opinions and myths. Check in regularly with your child to get a sense of what they already know and their exposure to the situation.

Be open and available for questions
A caregiver’s willingness and readiness to listen sends a very powerful message to children of any age. As best as you can, listen to their questions and concerns without minimizing them. If you don’t know the answer to a question that your child asks, it is okay to let them know that you don’t know and you will find an answer for them.

Model desired behaviors
Adult attitudes, beliefs, and actions affect children. It is very important to help your child identify their range of emotions and responses, as well as how to express them in appropriate ways. When you talk to your child, you can show positive ways of emotional expression, problem solving, and using words to describe your feelings.

How can I support my child’s sense of safety?
Limit news exposure
Decide how much news is appropriate for your child and set clear expectations in your household.

Provide a reliable routine
Whenever possible, keep predictable routines and structure in your child’s day. Consistency helps your child to have a sense of safety and predictability.

Encourage discussion
Male sure there is enough time for serious conversations about emotions. Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Allow them to ask questions and remind them of the facts – not perceptions – throughout your conversations. For example, if your child asks “Why did those bad guys hurt the good people?” you can respond with, “The people used violence to hurt other people because they did not like them or agree with them. Hurting others is never the right choice.”

Additional Resources
More resources for caregivers
• KidsHealth: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/news.html
• ConnectSafely: https://www.connectsafely.org/fakenews/
• CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/talking-with-children.html
• Healthy Children: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Talking-To-Children-About-Tragedies-and-Other-News-Events.aspx
• Scholastic: https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/social-skills-for-kids/how-to-explain-scary-news-to-kids.html
• SAMHSA: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma12-4732.pdf

Children’s Books
“The Breaking News” by Sarah Lynne Reul
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“I Can Write the World” by Joshunda Sanders
YouTube has the author Read-Aloud available here

“On the News: Our First Talk About Tragedy” by Dr. Jillian Roberts
YouTube has a Read-Aloud option available here



Reflecting Our Multicultural World: The Importance of Inclusive Toys and Books

Reflecting Our Multicultural World: The Importance of Inclusive Toys and Books

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

All children benefit from learning experiences that are inclusive of people and cultures that reflect the rich diversity of our world. Understanding and appreciating our differences and similarities is an important skill for all! For children of color in particular, research demonstrates that celebrating and embracing their own heritage is a powerful source of resilience in the face of prejudice and injustice. When toys and media depict only white characters and stories, children of color may receive the message that stories about white characters are preferable to stories about characters of their own race. They may even sense that they need to change themselves to be accepted. White children can receive the same message — they may begin to believe that stories with characters of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and heritages, don’t belong in their world. It is important to give your child the tools and space they need for understanding complex ideas about identity, diversity, and justice. The toybox and the bookshelf are great starting points to help your child understand and appreciate multiculturalism in their world.       

Learning with Toys
Play is an essential aspect of development for many reasons, and the positive effects of play are enhanced when playtime is inclusive. First, it helps children build social skills and confidence in interacting with peers — these are life skills that are essential for success in school and beyond. Second, it allows children to digest complex experiences: during play, particularly pretend play, children spend time practicing taking others’ perspectives, processing their emotions, and developing self-regulation skills. During playtime, children are free to experiment with their views of the world, break them down, and then build new worlds to try again. It is critical to provide play opportunities that affirm children’s experience of a diverse and multicultural world to help them process, understand, and appreciate the ways that people are different and similar.

Giving your child opportunities to represent diversity in their play can be as simple as providing crayons or markers that represent the wide range of human skin tones. There are even coloring books with the purpose of recognizing diversity! Other inclusive materials for pretend play can include play-food such as a multicultural play food set, this taco and tortilla set, or this Hawaiian food set. Diverse dolls and figurines such as My Family BuildersHape Wooden Doll FamiliesFriends with Diverse Abilities, and Heart for Hearts Girls can also be used in pretend play. You may even consider playing a face memory matching game

Learning through Stories
Books and stories provide our children with information and insight. They can also provide an important space for explicitly tackling difficult topics such as race, equity, and social justice. Books like Pat Thomas’ The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism (for pre-k – 3rd grade) and Julius Lester’s Let’s Talk About Race (for pre-k – 5th grade) use plain language to encourage discussion about race without shying away from this complex topic. Informational books such as these can help young readers develop awareness about injustices in the world.

Stories convey messages about what is important to us and they help children learn problem-solving strategies. For example, readers who dive into Patricia Polacco’s Mr. Lincoln’s Way (for 1st – 5th grade) will learn about strategies for responding to race-based prejudice with patience. This story also emphasizes that people are capable of changing harmful and prejudiced views about others. 

In addition to tackling heavier topics such as racism and injustice, it is also important to share stories in which diverse characters experience joy and affirmation. Stories such as these help readers — especially diverse readers — develop their sense of self. With this sense of identity, they are able to build an awareness of their own history and culture in addition to an awareness of others’ histories and cultures. Books have the power to broaden children’s’ knowledge and awareness of other cultures, and children whose cultures are represented can experience the joy of having their experiences, histories, and knowledge bases affirmed and celebrated. 

In David Robertson’s When We Were Alone (for k – 3rd grade), a young girl of Cree heritage learns about residential schools and how her Grandmother held onto Cree language and culture in spite of others trying to strip it away. Stories such as this can help young children learn that their cultural and racial identities should be celebrated as sources of strength. Natasha Anastasia Tarpley’s I Love My Hair (for babies and up to age 3) tells the story of Keyana, an African-American girl who discovers the beauty and magic of her hair. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali (for pre-k – 3rd grade) follows the bond between two sisters as the eldest finds pride and strength in wearing the hijab in the face of hurtful words. In Joanna Ho’s Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (for pre-k – 3rd grade), the narrator, a young Asian-American girl, becomes empowered to love her crescent-shaped eyes. Each of these books features characters that are strong because of their appreciation for their unique identities, histories and traditions, and sharing stories such as these can help your child celebrate what makes each of us different.

Resources
Social Justice Books’ Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books
Colours of Us 50 Best Multicultural Picture Books of 2019
Amazon Best Sellers in Children’s Multicultural Story Books
Bookriot’s 30 Children’s Books About Diversity that Celebrate Our Differences
Edutopia’s 22 Diverse Book Choices for All Grade Levels

Book Recommendations by Topic
These recommendations are a fantastic starting point for diving into multicultural stories. Check out some of the guides above to explore more titles!

TopicTitleAuthorAge or Grade Range
Race and RacismLet’s Talk About RaceJulius LesterPre-k – 5th
Race and RacismMr. Lincoln’s WayPatricia Polacco1st – 5th
Race and RacismThe Skin I’m In: A First Look at RacismPat ThomasPre-k – 3rd 
African American StoriesFull, Full, Full of LoveTrish Cooke Ages 2 – 5
African American StoriesI Am EnoughGrace ByersPre-k – 3rd
African American StoriesI Love My HairNatasha Anastasia TarpleyAges Baby – 3
Alaska Native StoriesSweetest KuluCelina KallukAges Baby -3
Alaska Native StoriesA Walk on the ShorelineRebecca HainnuK – 2nd
Alaska Native StoriesA Walk on the TundraRebecca Hainnu3rd – 5th
Asian American StoriesEyes that Kiss in the CornersJoanna HoPre-k – 3rd
Chinese American StoriesThe Ugly VegetablesGrace LinPre-k – 3rd
Indian American StoriesThe Many Colors of Harpreet SinghSupriya KelkarPre-k – 2nd
Indian American StoriesSame, Same but DifferentJenny Sue Kostecki-ShawPre-k – 2nd
Korean American StoriesBee-bim Bop!Linda Sue ParkPre-k -3rd
Muslim American StoriesMeet Yasmin!Saadia FaruqiK – 2nd
Muslim American StoriesThe Proudest BlueIbtihaj Muhammad and S.K. AliPre-k – 3rd
Native American StoriesMy Heart Fills with HappinessMonique Gray SmithAges Baby – 2
Native American StoriesSkySistersJan Bourdeau WabooseK – 3rd
Native American StoriesWhen We Were AloneDavid RobertsonK – 3rd
Vietnamese American StoriesA Different PondBao PhiK – 4th