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.
Educational Materials For Homebound Kids
There are so many resources for keeping your kids’ education at its top game. Recently, many educational foundations and organizations have released tools and activities that are great for the brain while we are schooling our children at home. Some of these resources are available for free. K- 12 kids activities can be found on Kids Activities Blog where dozens of activities and educational materials.Other educational resources for schooling at home, such as audiobooks, e-books, videos, multimedia materials, are also available on the Open Culture website, like Google Learn at Home for example.
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.
We are completely into this next topic; virtual field trips! Recently penguins touring Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium took Twitter by storm! Now we can join in on the fun by taking a virtual tour of more than 2,500 museums around the world. These museums have made their collections accessible online through Google Arts and Culture. Additionally, we can get an outdoors feel by accessing virtual tours of national parks in the U.S.
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.
Craving more science in your family’s life? (Bill Nye the Science Guy would be pleased as punch!) We found out that the California Science Center is livestreaming “Stuck at Home Science” Every weekday at 10 a.m. PDT. This is a new video series of science activities you can do at home.
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!
Teaching the value of mindfulness to your kids can be a creative and interactive activity too! Monterey Bay Aquarium hosts “MeditOcean.” Help build your kids resiliency with a soothing guided meditation video featuring several aquarium jellyfish.
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 a 3D 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.
Want to read more about Unified Caring Association and UCA benefits? We have other blogs on caring topics like: ‘R’ is for Reforestation, Caring Communities to Help Stop Cyberbullying, and Is My Child Resilient? Or follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter to receive caring updates during the week!
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!
Watch the full TedTalk by clicking HERE!
Would you like to read more caring blogs? We have other blogs on topics on UCA benefits: Medical Bill Negotiation, Nutrition to Help Prevent Depression, and Gut-Brain Connection! If you would like caring messages throughout the week, follow us on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter!