Tag Archives: support

Tips for caregivers during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order

Tips for caregivers during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order

Written by: Jenn Vanetten

As a parent or caregiver during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Washington State mandate, you may be confronting new challenges at home. You may be helping your child learn their math lessons, keeping them entertained with creative activities and helping them cope with the sudden changes in routine. Luckily, educators and professionals around the U.S. have been sharing free tools, activities and information to help! 

Here are a few situations that you may relate to and some tips and resources. 

Situation 1: Helping Children Understand and Rest
Arianna’s 5th birthday is next week. You began planning her birthday party before the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. She was excited about having her friends and family invited over for a party that included a bouncy house in the front yard. These plans have now been canceled and Arianna cries every day because she won’t have her party or get to see her friends and family. 

How do you help your child understand and overcome difficult feelings during this time?
Make sure you recognize and validate any negative feelings about the situation. Let your child know that it is okay to be sad. Then, focus on the positives. For example, you get to spend more time as a family. Try to make more time for fun at home. If it’s fun for your child, it is probably going to be more fun for you!

Check out these resources for tips on talking to your child about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and help them cope with changes:
National Association of School Psychologists on helping kids cope with changes
National Public Radio on using comics with older children
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on stress and coping
Child Mind Institute on talking to kids

Situation 2: Setting a Schedule & Helping Children Learn
Jasmine and Juan both work outside the home, but now they both are working from home. They have three children, Arial (age 3), Brandon (age 5) and Adrian (age 10). Arial usually attends childcare, Brandon normally attends preschool and Adrian is in elementary school. Adrian’s classes are now online, while Brandon and Arial are not engaged in school.  

How do you and your partner balance two working schedules, monitor online classes and help all children stay engaged during the day?
Structure is key. A written daily schedule will provide your children with a sense of comfort and control and will allow you and your partner to “split shifts” (and get some work done). Some families may want to create their schedules day-by-day while others may prefer to stick to one daily routine. Which is the right way? Do what works best for you and your family! Just remember to be flexible and to collaborate with your kids during this process—even if it means scheduling an hour for “kids’ choice.”

Check out these links for more tips on creating a daily schedule with your family:
How long should learning lessons be for children in different grades
8 tips on working at home with children

Situation 3: Keeping Children Entertained and Active
As a single parent, you stay at home with your 4-year old daughter and 7-year old son. After several weeks of staying at home, they have played every game in the house at least 20 times and have become tired of their toys. The easiest solution for keeping them busy is television and electronic devices, but you feel guilty about that

How do you keep your children engaged and active?
Try to make time for a fun family activity at least once a day! It is most important to ask your children what they want to do. Encourage them to be creative with their ideas. This can be a great opportunity to help them expand their creative minds. The internet can also be a great tool for finding new activities:
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a really cool website for access to age-appropriate activities for learning about science, math, arts, literacy, character, social skills and emotions
PBS will e-mail you daily suggestions for games and activities for free
The Seattle Times has ideas for easy activities with materials that are probably already in your house
Imagine has a YouTube page with art, science, music and math activities along with guest author and artist videos. Subscribe to be alerted to new posts. 

Check out these resources if you want more information about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and how to keep you and your family healthy:
CDC resources and guidelines
Public Health recommendations 
Washington State Department of Health resources and recommendations for parents and caretakers

Interactions Matter!

Interactions Matter!

Written by: Hannah de Vries

Everyday interactions between caregivers and children build the foundation for children’s social-emotional and cognitive development. Research shows that when caregivers are responsive, warm and sensitive to children’s needs, children develop confidence, resilience and communication skills. These skills help to prepare children for interactions with others and to work through problems, manage stress and form healthy relationships. Caregivers who engage children in different opportunities and experiences help them to develop a love of learning. For example, caregivers might encourage shared book reading, constructive play, independent exploration and participation in decision making. Children also benefit academically when caregivers engage them in conversation, use new vocabulary words, provide a literacy rich environment and embed problem solving in everyday family activities

What do high-quality interactions look like? Here are some simple and effective strategies to promote meaningful interactions:

Engage in responsive, warm and sensitive interactions.
• Attend carefully and listen actively when your child speaks to you by using eye contact, head nods, caring facial expressions and encouraging gestures that demonstrate empathy, engagement and validation. Allow enough time for your child to share, and avoid interrupting. 
• Provide toys and activities that are appropriate for your child’s development and understanding. Check the labels on toys to see if they are age appropriate.
• Be available when your child needs support, and recognize that all children have different needs. Perhaps your child needs your help with a transition routine, or to get ready for bed time. Perhaps your child needs you to arrive a bit early for school pick-up so they do not wait nervously. As you consistently identify and meet your child’s needs, they learn to trust and respect you. 

Follow your child’s lead.
Engaging in intentional number play with your child can help them to learn numeracy skills and get excited about learning more! Research shows that number play is more effective for a child’s skill-building when an adult guides the play. 
• Let your child take the lead in conversations and play by supporting their ideas. Avoid the temptation to direct all interactions, but instead show acceptance. For instance, if your child is pretending that stuffed animals are alive or wooden blocks are food, that is okay.
• Notice your child’s interests and play preferences. Suggest doing what your child enjoys and have fun together!

Engage in turn-taking.
• Establish predictable, back and forth verbal and social interactions with your child to enhance their language and cognitive abilities.
• Be patient and provide time for your child to take a turn. For instance, if you are working on a puzzle together, give your child enough time to explore how to place a puzzle piece in a space before helping. Talk your child through the interaction by modeling and prompting with statements like, “First it’s my turn to place a puzzle piece. Now it’s your turn.”

Challenge and support your child’s learning.
• Try elaborating on your child’s communicative attempts by repeating, rephrasing and expanding on your child’s words and non-verbal cues. 
• Use phrases that build on what your child is thinking about and contribute to what they want to investigate. Support your children’s language development by introducing and defining new vocabulary. 
• Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.” When you ask children to provide detailed responses, you support their developing thinking and comprehension skills. 
• Model, encourage and build trust with your child to develop their independence. Practice different skills with them. For example, model how to tie a shoe, brush teeth or fold a shirt and then say, “Now you try by yourself.”
• Encourage and comment on your child’s interests. For instance, if your child is pretending a cardboard box is a car, ask “Where are you driving?” or “Should we draw wheels on your car?”

Be a good role model.
• Be aware of your own emotions because children look to you for ways to express and regulate their emotions. For example, if you model self-talk for calming yourself when you are angry, you will model for your child how they can use the same technique. If you control your voice volume when you are excited, you will show your child how to experience intense emotion and use self control at the same time. 
• Children attend to everything you say and do and may imitate words and actions – try to be your best self. However, it is okay to make mistakes. Consider it an opportunity for modeling. If you make a choice you regret, take responsibility and help your child understand what you wish you had done instead.

These strategies can be used anytime and anywhere. You can create high quality interactions during transitions, travel time, daily routines, meals, bath time and play time. Everyday interactions matter!