Many of us are sheltering at home, and taking time to re-find a natural balance in our lives. While we are setting up new routines for our week, working from home, and even possibly teaching our children at home, we are feeling a bit more tired. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) are searching for caring resources, tools and tips to help people in our caring community to be successful. One thing we want to make sure to touch on is that it is more than ok to give yourself a break! What does that mean? It means holding a compassionate space for yourself.
There are many ways to show compassion for others, but we often forget to show ourselves the same compassion. Doctor Shauna Shapiro, PhD, talks about “…three components that make self-compassion put forth by her colleague Kristin Neff. Number one is to simply to witness what we are feeling and seeing in ourselves; this requires mindfulness. We suggest taking time when you are feeling stress or fear building to meditate. “The second is to be kind to ourselves, approaching that pain with the intention to actively soothe and support ourselves as we would a friend.”
Last, but not least, is to recognize that we are all in this together. Each person needs compassion from others, and needs compassion from themselves when they are giving their all. Shapiro calls this common humanity, and thinks that this is the most important element to hold in our minds and hearts. “When we acknowledge our common humanity… we feel a sense of connection that allows us to practice kindness not only for ourselves but also for all the other people who are in similar situations. …And that in itself is healing.”
Self-Compassion is Born of Mindfulness
As mentioned above that starting a journey into self-compassion requires mindfulness. We can continue the cycle and strengthen our self-compassion when we are mindful. With this positive cycle we continue to discover reserves of strength, wisdom, and resilience. “This is one of the alchemical powers of self-compassion: It simultaneously soothes the negative and grows the positive.”
If mindfulness activities or meditation are not your cup of tea, we have another suggestion for our caring community. Try journaling your thoughts and feelings. Once you have those emotions out, you can better understand actions, like increasing self-compassion, that need to be taken. A tip from Shapiro that we agree with is free-writing. This is a writing technique where we try not to think too much about organizing our words or thoughts while writing. “Simply write from your heart.” It will amaze and possibly shock you when going back over what you wrote.
We want to celebrate self-care through self-compassion. Compassion is something we all need more than ever today. We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.
We have officially begun the first week of homeschool for our kids as many of us are homebound and practicing health and safety routines for ourselves and our communities. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have been receiving questions about how to set up a routine for schooling at home. With some research we have come up with a few ideas that can help grow caring children and create a thriving educational environment at home.
Two Tips for Getting Set Up
One of the first challenges that can occur is the task of explaining to our kids about the coronavirus pandemic. This can be a bit difficult at times because there is some uncertainty about how long each school district is closing. It is important that we practice taking a deep breath to help us be center while calmly speaking with our kids. “The easiest rule of thumb is to try to be direct and honest and brief.” (Mathew Cruger)
The second tip is to set up new routines and goals. These routines do not have to be perfect off the bat. An example of a good place to start isa morning routine. In the morning, everyone wakes up at a reasonable hour, eats nutritious breakfast, brushes their hair and teeth, and gets dressed for the day. Another idea is to block out time for physical activity in the day, like a mock-recess. (Bonus points for joining in on the physical activity to help reduce your stress and boost your physical health!) If you need an example, check out fitness instructor Joe Wicks video series, P.E. with Joe. Each video is a daily 30-minute workout that kids can do at home.
Also, when setting up your new daily routine, it is important to set aside quality time with your family. This time requires you to put away other responsibilities in an effort to focus on playing with members of your family. A suggestion on LiveScience for “when you need to do another task, [is to] stay nearby and tell the child to play by themselves, but to let you know if they need help.” Sometimes we can have family bonding time through doing chores. Most of us have that moment of groaning when we think about dusting and mopping, but it can become a fun family activity. Try cranking up the tunes to boogie as you clean. Or have a relay race for who can fold the most laundry in 2 minutes!
Schedules are important to help kids understand what life will look like day-to-day, reducing stress and confusion. Additionally, a routine helps with student success for kids that still have school work to turn into their teachers remotely during the school closure.
Scholastic Learn at Home has daily lessons in a variety of formats: videos, stories and prompts for drawing and writing activities. These are lessons that are great for grade levels pre-K to 6th grade and up.
“Khan Academy, a free online learning resource offering lessons, exercises and quizzes, has daily schedules for organizing at-home learning for students ages 4 to 18 years.” (LiveScience Kids Activities) On weekdays, this academy offers livestreams on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to help parents and educators best utilize the website’s tools and resources while schooling at home.
Speaking of Youtube, there is a channel called Crash Course that offers engaging educational videos on a wide range of subjects that are great for high school students.
PBS KIDS and PBS LearningMedia are showing their support as well by offering tools to help support learning at home. Some of these tools include educational videos and games from favorite series, as well as related skill-building offline activities that will help us grow caring children while running their education home.
If we are looking at specific museums, The American Museum of Natural History in New York City offers all ages online learning materials that are perfect for schooling at home. We took a look at their Ology science website, and it has games and activities in a range of science topics like archaeology, astronomy, and marine biology.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has a tour too! The Air and Space Anywhere webpage provides virtual tours of the museum, educational podcasts, games and activities that are all about aircraft and spacecraft. This is a great way to get some STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) lessons, activities and videos on topics, like flight and space.
Miami’s Frost Science Museum is helping out with remote science activities as well. Frost Science@Home helps curious and inquisitive minds plenty to do with fun science activities and DIY science experiments.
Nova Labs at PBS has sciences for teens! These virtual science educational experiences come together through multimedia experiences that combine video, animation and games to delve into fascinating scientific topics. Teens learn about hot topics like polar ecosystems, solar storms and renewable energy to get your teens brains engaged and ready to help bring more caring into our communities.
NASA also has Teachable Moments for K-12th grade. This brings NASA to your home by connecting homes with resources for investigating the latest discoveries about our universe. To add to this, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is another source of free online content. When visiting the website, digital educators share live videos that pair with hands-on activities. These activities use materials that can be found at almost any home. Two examples of topics are living in space and on Mars, as well as basic rocketry.
For our kids that are ready for more and complex sciences, Physics Classroom is a great resource for beginning physics students. There are teacher toolkits for parents who are now learning how to be teachers. These toolkits supplement the site’s online lessons with videos, animations, simulations and exercises to give a full classroom experience.
Want to have a family Q&A with a scientist? Sign up at Skype a Scientist and get matched with an expert. This expert will live Skype chat with your family about real scientific research.
With all of the remote education and being homebound, we are craving some connection! stemCONNECT is a great answer that uses video conferencing to bring together students and experts in STEM industries. Also, the site has a free video library. This library contains Florida-based STEM experts to help with your child’s understanding of practical applications of a STEM career.
Creative & Fun
We have talked a lot about sciences and logical education resources. Now we get to flip to the other side of the brain. Ready to run some fun and creative activities at home? Creativity is a huge part of learning and having a fulfilling life adventure. Much like our Caring Coloring Contest, organizations are bringing to homes creative education as well!
If your children need a more hands-on activity, they can hone their artistic side with artist and writer Mo Willems. Williams is hosting Lunch Doodles video sessions weekdays at 1 pm EDT. These sessions have an activity page reflecting the doodle session. If you happen to have a3D printer, access to blueprints of digital 3D models from NASA. It can be fun and educational to print and construct miniature models of satellites, asteroids, spacecraft, and more!
Add a little ancient history and anthropology to the schooling at home curriculum with the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. Kids in 3rd-12th grade can learn to write their names in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs with a step-by-step guide. If they get really good they can write a whole story for you!
Is reading and storytime built into your kids’ education at home? There are variety of videos where celebrities and professionals in multiple industries read books aloud. It can be a thrill to watch and listen to Story Time from Space. Listen to stories sent to the International Space Station (ISS). These stories are read aloud by astronauts as they orbit far above Earth.
It is during this time that we come together with our families to help each other learn more. Setting up new goals and routines so that our children can do their schooling at home can be confusing. UCA is here to help and share caring resources. We are all being called to do extraordinary things for the collective caring of our families, communities and the world in response to the unique coronavirus pandemic. Whether home bound or providing critical services, everyone is stretched to adapt like never before. All of us are in this together. Now more than ever, caring is what we need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life is going to require new routines, resilience and compassion. We invite you to join us in creating a caring movement to respond to local needs.
In a world where many of us are running around and working hard, we are more prone to being burned out. What can we do to prevent this from happening? Well, Unified Caring Association (UCA) is here to share caring resources to help out our members and community. One way we have found that helps us become more resilient is taking a break to recharge our batteries.
Work to the bone no more!
Most of us learned that the harder we work the more success we have. The secret is, that this is not the best way to travel our life’s journey. What we tend to do after working this hard is shutdown when we get home. However, when getting home after work, many of us want to soak in time with family, friends, and hobbies. Not to mention, when we are burned out we are far less productive. This feels like running harder up a slippery hill and getting nowhere fast. For Harvard Business Review’s Neil Pasricha, what most people “…needed was a practical way to get more work done without taking more time.”
Enter a revolutionary self-care concept, untouchable days. “These are days when I am literally 100% unreachable in any way…by anyone…I look at my calendar sixteen weeks ahead of time, and for each week, I block out an entire day as UNTOUCHABLE.” This gives us time to unplug, journal, and recharge to be better able to tackle our work, and be more present in our lives.
Pasricha comments on his ‘untouchable days’ and what he gets from them. “I think of them as having two components. There is the deep creative work. When you’re in the zone, you’re in a state of flow, and the big project you’re working on is getting accomplished step by step by step. And then there are the nitros — little blasts of fuel you can use to prime your own pump if you hit a wall. These unproductive moments of frustration happen to all of us, and it’s less important to avoid them than to simply have a mental toolkit you can whip out when they happen.”
Being 100% out of reach is not for everyone. However, the concept of getting up and taking a break from work or a frustrating situation holds true. We often can compose ourselves with deep breaths or mindfulness activities. Then we can return to our day with new eyes and a can-do attitude. Ultimately, taking time to unwind is key for achieving self-care and success in all areas of life!
Each day we interact with friends, family, and many other people. During these interactions we often strive to make meaningful connections. There are so many ways we can connect, and one is the most prominent: talking with each other. We at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have recently seen a wonderful TedTalk by Celeste Headlee about 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation. This is a wonderful speech that helps us understand different ways to connect with others through conversation.
The World We Live In
Celeste begins her speech talking about the shift in how we hold conversations with each other due to the integration of technology. Many people spend most of their time communicating through emails and texts. Celeste makes a good point: this world we live in has great potential but can quickly devolve into arguments. Think about how a text that is misread triggers us to feel a wide range of negative emotions. This communication trend is especially prominent in children and teens. “Pew Research did a study of 10,000 American adults, and they found that at this moment, we are more polarized, we are more divided, than we ever have been in history. We’re less likely to compromise, which means we’re not listening to each other. And we make decisions … based on what we already believe.” If we are not holding balanced conversations and listening to each other, we are losing out.
A VIP Skill-Communication
A high school teacher, named Paul Barnwell, gave his students a communication project to teach them how to speak on a specific topic without notes. It became apparent that conversational competence might be one of the most underdeveloped skills for students. This difficulty is partly due to kids spending hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens. Rarely do these kids have an opportunity to develop interpersonal communications skills. Barnwell asks, “Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?”
How to Have a Great Conversation
Most of us have an idea of how to actively listen and participate in a conversation. Some of these tips are: look the person in the eye, think of interesting topics before you meet, smile, and repeat back a summary of what you heard for further clarification. Celeste Headlee argues that we should forget all or most of this in an effort to have not just good conversations, but great conversations. We all have had interactions that we walk away from craving more. This drive to have a longer interaction is a sign of a great conversation. These connections allow us to feel engaged and inspired, and that we are perfectly understood.Headlee has ten great tips to achieve this result almost every time you hold a conversation.
Right off the get-go, Headlee hits the ground running! We all should avoid multitasking. Juggling your “to-do” list with the argument you had with your significant other three days ago while talking with your best friend is not devoting caring time with your best friend. When we do not multitask, we are present and in the moment with the person(s) we are having a conversation with.
Next, Celeste strongly recommends not pontificating. When we pontificate we become predictable and have a harder time keeping an open mind. “You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn.” This can mean setting aside your personal opinion for the time being, allowing the speaker to have room and encouragement to open up.
Thirdly, when asking questions, use open-ended questions. Part of this technique is psychological. When we have a strong word prompt, such as terrifying, we respond to it and formulate a comment that reflects the same intensity and mood. To hold a better conversation let the speaker identify the thought and feeling. “Let them describe it. They’re the ones that know. Try asking them things like, ‘What was that like?’ ‘How did that feel?’ Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you’re going to get a much more interesting response.”
Number four: Try to let go or go with the flow. Thoughts will appear; even if these thoughts do not relate to the conversation, let them go out of your mind. Sometimes these thoughts are lists of groceries, or a really great question we DO want to ask the person we are talking with. The issue can be that we are not actually listening, and maybe that really great question was already answered.
Five: If you don’t know an answer, admit it, and move forward. This surrender to not knowing everything helps us become more relatable to the other person we are talking with. Also, it can help us build or maintain our credibility, and hopefully strengthen our relationships. So, say that you don’t know in an effort to err on the side of caution.
Next, is an important note to remember. We do not want to equate our experience with the other person’s. Each experience and feeling is unique to the person it pertains to. We can never feel exactly the same. Think about the proverb: You can never step in the same river twice. This is true because the water is constantly flowing, and therefore never the same in any spot. “More importantly, it is not about you. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you’ve suffered.”
Number seven: Try our hardest to not repeat yourself. The repetition can become boring to the listener, and possible condescending. Take a moment during your next conversation to count how many times you repeat yourself, and you might realize that we tend to repeat ourselves a lot.
We are coming to the home stretch of Headlee’s list. Eighth in line is advice for many situations outside and inside of conversations: try to avoid using too many facts. Most people are less interested in how many years you did “such-and-such” or the names and dates of your 20 second cousins twice removed. What truly matters to others is the genuine you; what you are like and have in common.
Ninth in line is VIP: LISTEN. Most of us equate active listening with holding a great conversation, and truly listening takes many of the state steps into account. Many successful people believe and share that listening is perhaps the most important skill that you can develop. Headlee paraphrases Buddha with pizzazz. “If your mouth is open, you’re not learning.” Why is listening so hard when it is so important? Well, it can come down to controlling the conversation through talking, especially if we are afraid. There is an additional reason: We have short attention spans (a.k.a. we get distracted, easily). On average a person talks at a rate of about 225 words per minute. However, our brains can listen to 500+ words per minute. In the 275 gaps between we tend to fill in or lose focus on the conversation. As another example, think about how quickly we lose interest in a video on Facebook or YouTube? If the content doesn’t grab us within the first 20-30 seconds, we move on. It takes a great amount of energy and effort to pay attention to someone while holding a conversation with them. Otherwise, you are just shouting monologues that might overlap with each other.
Last but not least, number 10. Celeste Headlee keeps it simple as she shares a quote from her sister: Be brief. “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”
What is the basic concept?
What is the common thread we find in all ten of Headlee’s tips? The answer: “Be interested in other people. …assuming everyone has some hidden, amazing thing about them.” We can be amazed at all our caring community has to offer when holding truly great conversations with each other. We encourage our caring community to share the caring by connecting through conversations. And remember, caring conversations with ourselves can be a form of self-care!
Want to have a lifestyle that is more relaxing? What if we could develop a habit that will keep us rejuvenating, support healing, healthier choices, and allow us to sleep better each night? We at Unified Caring Caring Association (UCA) want to help share caring and ways for everyone to live a happy and fulfilling life. One way to set ourselves up for success is to practice mindfulness activities (A.K.A. meditation). With a clear mind, we can set effective and attainable goals. Want to learn how to start a lifestyle habit? Read on for a “how to.”
For over a thousand years, meditation has been used for increasing relaxation and mental resilience. This resilience helps enhance overall well-being and health. Over the past five years the number of adults meditating in the U.S. has increased to 15.5%, and 5.5% of children are also meditating.
There are four main elements that most meditation formats have in common:
Meditation: In Depth – This is an article that gives a great summary of meditation and research on how meditation helps us free up space in our brain to be able to make better decisions. In this article is a three minute Q&A video with Dr. Amishi Jha about her definition of what mindfulness is.
Another way to learn more about meditation is to jump in and try it out. Here are two samples of videos that UCA members have access to:
Meditation helps us get set for our day and going through the week with clear heads. With an open and flexible mind we can tackle the mountain of dishes in the sink and the quarterly board meeting all in the same day. When children become more adept at meditation, it can help them focus in school and allow for a boost of energy to get them through the football game. We at UCA are happy to help people build happy and healthy lives filled with gratitude and success. Meditation and mindfulness are both positive influences toward that goal.
Even more than before we see kids and teens with their faces glued to their phones either texting, playing games, or any variety of things. (Ok, maybe we can include some adults in this as well.) With this technology literally at our fingertips, we at Unified Caring Association (UCA) have great news! We have sourced amazing apps and games for ages 2 and up to play on a tech device of your choice. These apps and games are in line with our caring values, and are verified with Common Sense Media, a company that reviews , monitors and rates a wide variety of apps. Check out the variety of caring and educational apps we have found for our members that are available on iTunes, Google Play, or the Amazon Appstore!
Ages 2-5 Years Old
Wheels on the Bus
Do you remember the classic kids song that is often sung on field trips? This app has it in sweet and interactive ways. Parents and kids will probably giggle with delight while singing along with this newest version of “Wheels on the Bus!” You can even record your own voice singing the very memorable tune.
Crayola Color, Draw & Sing
Take some time to fuel you artsy side by being creative with this app! Kids choose a song to listen to while they create their masterpieces. Each and every action unlocks a new instrument or feature, even scribbling or changing colors! Your young artist will have a beautiful piece of art accompanied with a song in no time flat!
Ages 4-8 Years Old
Intro to Math, by Montessorium
It’s never too early to start learning new skills! This app helps teach kids an early education in math through a game. In this game the ‘student’ will manipulate objects on the screen to achieve the end goal. There are several approaches to numbers that this app presents to the kids using this app. Who knows, your child might soon be giving you advice on stocks and investments?!
Intro to Letters, by Montessorium
This is another educational app that we have sourced to help children recognize, pronounce and write letters! This includes lowercase and capital letters as well as phonograms to help sound out new or unfamiliar words.
Creativity and learning are connected at the hip, especially when they are paired up with interesting characters and engaging activities! With this app, there are many ways for self-expression. It covers important topics like phonics, storytelling, mathematics, problem-solving and more! Through this app parents can view and track the progress their kids are making which enables them to help their children set goals and celebrate achievements upon completion!
Ages 6-8 Years Old
Winky Think Logic Puzzles
Puzzles are one of the most endearing games on the market. They touch a place of nostalgia in our hearts. With Winky Think Logic Puzzles your kids will feel the joy in a new techno way! This app has 180 logic puzzles in a wide range of difficulties! Kids will mull over complex games with obstacles, mazes and multi-touch action while strengthening their minds.
This is an adorable family-friendly puzzle adventure requiring analytical thinking that can be fun for younger kids, teens and adults alike! Parents and kids play cooperatively to solve puzzles by talking it out to decide the best strategy to win the game!
This app is a strategic adventure that is a unique and fun way to travel. It is challenging, by not too hard for those kids that are on the younger side of the age bracket. The game plays the role of a little bug named Kribl. Kribl must traverse harsh landscapes inside the safety of a box.
Ages 6-12 Years Old
One of the most valuable skills kids can learn early on is mindfulness. This will set them up for success by giving them the ability to cope with stressful situations that pop up as they grow. This app helps learn mindfulness by providing the tools and practice with Flibbertigibbet, an animated representation of emotions that your child feels.
Your kids will have a grand time while improving their fine motor skills and practicing math! Each dot represents a number, players combine and divide them to solve math problems. This easy to use app is attention grabbing for all ages with fun animations and bright colors.
Plants by Tinybop
Virtually explore wildlife with this app. Learn about nature by crashing clouds together, or how the seasons change by speeding up time! This app has eye catching illustrations that are filled with details. With open play capabilities and every season is a new adventure, we cannot wait to see what our kids discover next!
Magisto Video Editor
For the older kids in our lives who enjoy video making, we have an app for you! This is a powerful and easy to use video editing app. It can add music to existing video, stitch together footage, create show stopping slide shows, and more! Let your teens’ inner filmmaker thrive and see what they create!
Your teen can explore language by choosing different categories based on their grade level. A couple of examples of the categories are: soundslike and compound words. Add on the fun by picking what challenges to do in the app. Unscramble letters to make words, practice spelling by testing, alphabetize words, or use them in a game setting! Tons of fun your your teen!
High School Story
Teen players set up their own version of high school. Try to win the game by surviving teendom trappings like dating, bullying and cyberbullying, self-esteem, and other social interactions that cause stress. Just like the messages in this app, learn to gear your outlook and actions to be positive, filled with your teens authenticity, kindness and more to help support digital friends. This app contains some challenging topics and quests that help instigate teens using it to think and practice caring actions.
Words With Friends
Do you and your teens like to play word games like Scrabble? This app is for you! Words With Friends is a Scrabble-look-a-like game that is more for teens and adults. It has fast match ups to challenge friends and other people online, and an open chat (which is unfiltered) to catch up with friends and family members as your play!
This is a full Sims game to build your dream house, get that highly sought after job and have your dream relationship. The Fremium version is fun, enjoyable and can be easily played without spending money on in-app purchases. How will your teen plan out their lives in this game? Maybe they will have that mansion with a pool, or that fun, fast-paced career that brings in the dough while caring for the environment! The options are endless. The sky’s the limit!
Whatever games and apps your children choose to play, we at UCA value that they are filled with C.A.R.E., and help your children grow into caring ambassadors. Have fun and enjoy the apps!
If we search the internet, magazines, and television shows we often find the theme to be how to improve aspects of ourselves and our lives, a.k.a. tips for better health. It is safe to say, we often search for answers and ways to improve our lives. Not just the lives of those we know and love, but our own lives too. Below we have a handful of answers to help with our continued practices.
1.) Practice Mindfulness- Unified Caring Association’s recent blogs on mindfulness and meditation are a great resource on this. When we quiet our thoughts, we allow our minds the freedom to be creative, solve problems, and heal.
2.) Be Positive- Positivity is self-generating. We hear and experience kind acts and how they are passed along, like holding the door open for someone who in turn picks up another person’s wallet that has dropped. Think about the 2002 movie Pay It Forward, and how one kind act generated a large movement that expanded beyond the initial town.
3.) Be Kind- Kindness is often linked with positivity, and is self-generating as well. However, being kind allows for the opportunity to receive positivity. Also, being kind applies to yourself as well. We can be hard on ourselves and kindness allows for the space, love, and patience we often overlook. If you are looking for a simple way to promote kindness in your day, check out UCA’s Caring Challenge for daily caring and kind acts.
4.) Show Gratitude- Gratitude can be shown in so many ways. We recently uploaded a blog about sharing gratitude through the gift of time and saying thank you. But there are many other ways that we can show gratitude to become better at it. One way can be by bringing a treat for your team such as cookies, fruits, etc. Another way to start recognising and brainstorming ways to show gratitude is writing down 3-5 things we are grateful for each day as a review for that day. The more consistent we are when doing this, the better we become at recognising and showing our gratitude.
5.)Smile- The most simple and tangible way to better our lives is to smile more. Smiling not only uses less muscles in our faces, it often subconsciously makes us happier. If we try to incorporate smiling in our days we will feel better and doing the four other suggestions above becomes more natural.
These five options are a great way to begin reviewing and practicing ways to better our health and lives. Once we incorporate these tips, we begin to experience the freedom of a more successful and stress-free lifestyle. We become more creative and experience more happiness in the moments we come across each and every day.