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Important questions to ask yourself

Experts advise that keeping a routine during a time of uncertainty is important to maintaining a sense of calm and control. These suggestions, many borrowed from this article from the New York Times help parents plan for the days of school closures.

1) Will an adult be around to supervise?
If you are an essential worker, you may be faced with the dilemma of child care for your children. We may be able to help. Please reach out if you are needed at work and there is not another care giver within your home.

California does not have a specific law for the age at which a child can be left alone, or in the supervision of an older sibling. Parents are asked to make that determination based on maturity levels. The California Department of Education offers a checklist to help you make this decision here

Your child may need to take on more responsibility during these days, especially if they are needed to care for younger siblings. Have realistic expectations on what they are able to accomplish academically based on their responsibilities and stress levels.

2) Do we have a daily schedule?
Setting up a daily schedule with your kids will help them manage time, provide brain breaks, and create a sense of normalcy. Take a peak on the right column for an example - or build your own!

 

Your schedule can be unique, especially in these first weeks before remote instruction plans are solidified. I recommend starting the day with a family meeting - look ahead at the goals for the day and talk about the game plan. Make sure to start with affirmations - ask kids to share their thoughts/worried/concerns - but also ask them to share something they feel proud about or are looking forward to.

 

Set aside time to review student work during or at the end of the day. This can be your opportunity to look at the work with your kids, or to reach out to teachers for clarification or support. It also gives you a chance to praise your child for their progress and process.

 

Family meetings are a good idea at the end of the day, too. Ask everyone to share their highs and lows. Make space for "do-overs" for anyone who lost their temper or patience. Encourage children to think about what they want the next day to look like. This is a rare opportunity to increase our children's emotional intelligence and to model healthy communication, coping skills, and conflict management. If your family is struggling - reach out! We can talk ideas to help you get on the right track.


3) Do we have the necessary tech equipment to access learning and enrichment materials?
Please contact a teacher, counselor, or administrator if you are having difficulty accessing school activities due to technological capabilities. We will do what we can to provide tech support. Make sure to check for updates daily as our ability to provide remote services changes over time.

 

Our school district is in the process of training teachers on various remote learning tools. We are also in the process of making sure all of our families have access. It will take time to get settled into this new way of learning - please be patient with yourself, with your kids, and with your school staff!

4) How do we plan to keep our kids active indoors?
For younger children, GoNoodle.com is a fun website for getting kids to dance and move. Older kids can take advantage of YouTube to learn various dance moves, try out meditation or yoga. Hopefully, we will be able to move about freely in the outdoors, but having indoor options is important, too.

 

5) What can we learn from all of this? This experience is different for everyone. Some people will be able to focus on the opportunity to grow as a parent, as a family right away. Other families are experiencing additional crises related to loss of wages, housing instability, or other factors. One truth that applies to everyone is that self-care is crucial.

 

Connect with your loved ones, slow-down, find a pace that works for you. There are lots of virtual tours and activities to try. We should get better and better at finding ways to connect with one another virtually. Keep in touch with your loved ones - and ask for help if you need it! Look for ways to volunteer or donate, being of service to others keeps us from ruminating. 

6) How will we balance children's exposure to social media during this time?
Encouraging kids to find a healthy media balance in our normal life is challenging, but this situation makes it even more important to urge kids to disconnect. Try this self-care bingo for other activities that promote overall wellness!

 

Tips for a Successful School from Home Experience

accessing help and accurate information

We know these are uncertain times. Making sure you have accurate and up to date information is crucial to being prepared and not scared. Try to keep your children's access to media limited so as not to bring about undue anxiety. Please email the counseling team if you need advice or individualized support for your child during these next few weeks.

 

Abby Costello acostello@srcs.org

Maria Pusel mpusel@srcs.org

Meghan Greenwood mgreenwood@srcs.org

 

If you or your child are experiencing a mental health emergency, the following resources are available:

  • 24-7 Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741

  • 24-7 Grief Counseling Hotline: 1-415-499-1195

  • California Youth Crisis Line: 1-800-843-5200

  • Huckleberry Youth Services: 1-415-386-9398

  • Marin Mobile Crisis Response Team: 1-415-473-6392 (1-415-473-3344 (TTY))

  • Psychiatric Emergency Services: 1-415-473-6666 

  • Bay Area Community Resources: 1-415-444-5580

  • 24-7 Marin Suicide Prevention: 1-415-499-1100

Here is some information from the American School Counseling Association with links to reliable sources:

Centers for Disease Control
Coronavirus Disease 2019  
Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
Guidance for School Settings Before and During an Outbreak

U.S. Department of Education
COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnnel
Protecting Student Privacy

SAMHSA
Coping with Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

Child Mind Institute
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus 

Center for American Progress
How K-12 Schools Should Prepare for Coronavirus

National School Boards Association
COVID-19: Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community: A Legal Guide for School Leaders

Share My Lesson
Coronavirus Student Guide: Explnations and News Updates

National Education Association
Schools and Coronavirus

National Association of School Psychologists
Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource

stay in touch

  • Join our Counseling Google Classroom for tips, worksheets, ideas delivered to you electronically on a daily basis. You just need to enter the CODE a6lk4p4
  • Email
    • Abby Costello                   acostello@srcs.org
    • Maria Pusel                      mpusel@srcs.org
    • Meghan Greenwood     mgreenwood@srcs.org 
  • Stay tuned for information on virtual counseling opportunities
Cartoon for Kids

Tips from the Marriage and Family Therapist Association

Tip 1: Practice Acceptance

A global pandemic is not a usual occurrence. It makes sense that you are feeling uneasy. Allow for your feelings and allow for the reality of the situation. Also allow for the fact that most of us are not in immediate danger, and that we’re working together to find solutions.

Tip 2: Make a Plan

Our brains get very overwhelmed in situations that are out of our control and have uncertain outcomes. Comfort yourself by controlling what you can. Be sure to wash your hands. Do what you need to feel safe and secure. Check out the Red Cross Safety and Readiness Guide here, and share your readiness plan with your family: http://bit.ly/REDCROSSSARG

Tip 3: Stay in the Present Moment

When we bring our mind into the present, and stop ruminating about the future or the past (what has gone wrong and what could go wrong) we realize that we’re ok. Make sure your mind is where your body is. Use a mantra if that’s helpful – “This too shall pass.”

Tip 4: Don’t Overexpose Yourself to the News

Repeatedly viewing or listening to the same scary story can really push your nervous system into full panic mode. Schedule just a few times a day to turn on the news or look at the internet, for about 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer to keep yourself from fixating on the scary stuff.

Tip 5: Pay Attention to your Body

Our brains and our bodies are intricately connected. We feel better emotionally when we feel physically rested. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting a little exercise, and practicing good sleep hygiene.

Tip 6: Practice Deep, Slow Breathing

When you practice deep, slow breathing, you’ll feel less anxious, because your lungs will send a message through your Vagus nerve to your brain that all is well. Practice breathing ‘In’ for a count of six, and breathing ‘Out’ for a count of six, for one full minute or more.

Tip 7: Stay Connected

We are biologically wired to connect with one another, and there is real healing power in connecting with other people who are struggling in similar ways. Even though you may not want to spend time with big groups or see people in person, make sure you’re not isolating more than necessary.

Tip 8: Keep a Balanced Perspective

Even in the most challenging times, we can find a few aspects of our lives that are going well. It is important to focus on the good in times of struggle. If you realize you haven’t laughed or smiled in a while, watch a funny TV show or call a friend who makes you laugh, and remember that the world isn’t all bad. Sometimes, even in the midst of crisis, we can find silver linings.

IF YOU NEED SUPPORT FROM A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL, PLEASE REACH OUT TO ONE OF THESE RESOURCES TO FIND A THERAPIST NEAR YOU!:

COUNSELING CALIFORNIA - https://www.counselingcalifornia.com/

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

TALKSPACE -  https://www.talkspace.com/

For Updates on the COVID-19 Coronavirus:

In California: ·

  • Governor Newsom’s Executive Order enhances CA’s ability to respond to COVID-19 Pandemic, canceling gatherings over 250 people, removing wait times for unemployment and disability, and readying hotels and medical facilities: http://bit.ly/2IGHPMz ·
  • California Department of Public Health has issued updated Social Distancing guidelines to protect public health and slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19: http://bit.ly/2xrGh6G

Nationally: ·

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