Since schools shut down on March 13, I’ve been overwhelmed by all the amazing online opportunities and homeschool suggestions that have been zooming through my feeds.
What I really need are strategies to get my kids to breathe and to connect to their bodies when they are cooped up at home without access to other people. And I need to do the same. In addition to the concern about health, there’s the financial worries about loss of income, and there’s the loss of time to think by myself and the added stress of keeping my kids engaged while we’re all home together. Trying to model resilience and patience is no joke!
Now that Virginia has closed schools for the year and has said there will be waivers for Standards of Learning Tests, I feel less concerned about ticking boxes. The idea of having to deliver my kids back to their teachers mid-April felt stressful. That first week, I tried to come up with a schedule, like everyone else. But I didn’t love it and didn’t ever take it from pencil to something more permanent.
(Nor did I ever get to color-coding).
In the past week, I have come to appreciate more acutely than ever before that my kids are super different.
The 4th grader wants to go over and above the recommended daily lessons – including way too much iPad time – and literally cried one day at 8:30 a.m. when sleeping a little late got us slightly behind on our new schedule.
By contrast, the 8th grader didn’t want to weigh in on a schedule in the first place and then later cried about even having a schedule at all.
And both of them seemed stressed out! So did I.
With high school looming, I feel compelled to keep up with learning, but what we did that first week is not going to cut it for the next three months!
So, even before I found out that three weeks would turn into three months, I decided to start over. I know now I need to prioritize time for all of us to ground and breathe.
Connecting to nature is also super important (allergies-permitting).
I found that I was offering to take the dog for a walk by myself just to be alone. Although it’s okay to take the opportunity to reset, I’d like to feel more comfortable in my house and less like escaping!
After some reflection on the week, I realized – again! – that my main goal is – always, school or no! – to support the health and well-being of my kids. So I’m going to put that front and center. I have the time, right?
Here’s the visual I came up with to hold me to my priorities.
The kids didn’t argue with me about it.
And I think it’s pretty.
I’m trying to walk my walk. Creative writing is going to be tough to fit in while trying to keep my younger from too much iPad and my older from too much YouTube.
So maybe I will paint some more.
Take more photos.
Do stuff with flowers.
We still have a draft schedule but this time as a daily flow without firm times. (And still in pencil with no color coding).
Each kid now has a checklist of some stuff to do daily and several categories of lessons/activities to do two or three times a week.
Also, still posted from last week are various lists of activities in the different categories, lest we forget our options!
- physical activity options
- healthy habits
- outings (which will need to be truncated with new restrictions in place)
- healthy habits
There’s redundancy across all these papers, but you have to start somewhere.
What I didn’t have compiled before now was a list of online resources to support my kids’ emotional well-being with mindfulness activities and opportunities to expand their horizons beyond the confines of our townhouse.
So this is that list!
Or at least it’s a start. I’m open to suggestions.
This list aims to address our unique emotional needs right now and not to address academics.
Even experienced homeschoolers are grappling with the new realities of access to other people and to museums and libraries, even stores.
(I would consider adding some links to compilations of academic-ish resources from outside-the-mainstream approaches if I get some cool recommendations.)
I’ve included some resources that were already out there but have focused on content that’s targeted to our current moment.
I’m also including resources offered by local DC-area businesses.
A sense of community is so important right now! I want my kids to connect to the places they’ve seen plays and concerts and to see former teachers and camp counselors active in the world!
Whether from near or far, please share additional recommendations in the comments. I’ll update the post periodically.
Mindfulness and Mindful Movement Resources
Songwriter Kira Willey is offering her Mindful Moments for Kids collection for free download. There are 32 tracks, most of which are about a minute long. Love them!
Each day at noon, Yoga4Classrooms founder Lisa Flynn will offer a short video (under 10 minutes) leading a movement lesson or a mindful activity. Find them on the Yoga4Classrooms Facebook page.
Mindful Schools will be offering free mindfulness classes for kids online – for mindful activities, mindful movement, read-alouds. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday at 1 p.m. ET. Sign up on the Mindful Schools website to participate and for reminders.
Safe space storytime with Dancing Jaguar’s Spirit Camp
Free storytime and support afternoons offered daily 3:30-4:15 ET through March 27 (looks to be extended to April 3).
Each day will focus on a different topic, but the underlying theme of all of the classes is to “provide a safe place for children to come together in an online community to listen to uplifting, encouraging, positive messages about who they are and the world we live in. It will be a place for hope, laughter, sharing, compassion, and kindness.”
Founder Eva Goulette says: “I will read a story, invite the children to have a piece of paper and their crayons available to draw a picture, we will talk about their feelings and thoughts, practice positive affirmations, and use that time as a check-in with each other. Parents can trust that their child is receiving quality interaction with a trusted adult for 45 minutes, allowing them time to start dinner, do some laundry, or provide one-on-one time with younger siblings. It will be appropriate for children ages 5-12.”
New! Starting April 7, Eva will be offering a twice-weekly camp through the end of May to teach children how to nurture their inner world. Details here.
For more info about Eva’s programming, see this post about my younger child’s experience in Spirit Camp.
Nature connection ideas from Nature Club Kids
This small educational business based in Arlington is offering free daily suggestions for getting your kids to connect to nature on its Facebook page.
The popular meditation app has newly titled subcategories divided by age group: First steps (ages 3-5), Curious minds (ages 6-8), and Growing up (ages 9-12)
Find more tips and several short videos in this Positive Psychology article: 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens (+Tips!)
Additional Movement Resources
Free livestreaming dance classes with BalletNova Center for Dance
#danceathomeactivities with Go Bananas Dancing
Movement activities and videos from the founder of this Arlington-based business on its Facebook page.
Free live streaming dance classes with the Cleveland Ballet
Live streaming ballet classes taught by Cleveland Ballet Artistic Director, Gladisa Guadalupe will be available through the company’s Instagram page, @clevelandballetcompany and Facebook live on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for multiple skill levels (with plans to add a younger children’s ballet class in the future). Each class will be stationary and easy to follow, while in the comfort of your own home. Classes the week of March 23-27 (M, W & F) are: Ballet Advanced/Professional at 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Ballet Ages 10-14 at 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Virtual Exploration & Nature
Lots of live cams of animals in their habitat. If you can’t open a door or window, this site is great to have on in the background to get nature sounds, which are so healing and soothing!
Georgia Aquarium live videos – Ocean Voyager cam – super calming!
Every weekday at 2:00 p.m. EDT, Explorer Classroom’s live video events connect students with National Geographic Explorers across all seven continents to bring exploration to life.
List of animal and nature cams from The Daily Beast
5 National Parks virtual tours from Travel & Leisure
30 Virtual Field Trips from a teacher
Live every day at 1 p.m. ET, author and illustrator – and Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence – Mo Willems will lead children in art activities. Watch live or see archived episodes on the Kennedy Center website.
Livestream acting and music classes from Encore Stage & Studio
Tours of museums, concerts, plays and more
For the tweens/teens
Unique opportunity created by a teen: HOME mentoring program for girls with live calls with teen mentors – $10/week
For the parents:
Our kids take their cues from us, and we are always modeling, not matter what we’re doing.
Check out these resources for finding your own calm, maybe when the kids are asleep or in another room.
- Mindful Parenting in Stressful Times group led by local therapist Mindful Parenting, Francine Ronis LP. Thursdays at 11:30 a.m all spring starting March 26. Zoom call ID 2084564800
- Kim John Payne‘s special audio series “Troubling Times: Anxiety Rising, Schools Closing, and Way More Time at Home With The Kids” at Simplicity Parenting
- “Seven Ways to Find Grace and Alleviate Suffering During the COVID-19 Pandemic” from Yoga4Classrooms
- Insight Meditation Community of Washington has lots of resources including video guides to meditation plus online classes during this time. See the IMCW calendar for updated info.
Here are a few compilation lists of ideas from these blogs (from which I stole a few of my links above):
Let Me Start By Saying – includes great ideas overall plus several lists of book suggestions
TeachMama – from the Rockville-based blogger, tons of activities to do at home including crafts, educational activities and virtual tours
In Case of Quarantine – new site created by an Arlington parent with homeschooling resources and interviews of local interest
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life and the author of its Guide to Holistic Family Living in Metro DC. A mother of two, Jessica founded the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network and volunteers on school wellness issues. Follow on Facebook at MindfulHealthyLife, on @